by Soulla Christodoulou
This is a very special moment for Linda Ganzini, author of Lilia as she unveils her new book based on the true story of her mother and mother’s family during Nazi occupied Italy.
I have read snippets on her Instagram account and many have left me feeling cold and uncomfortable, while others had me wanting to hug my loved ones tighter.
Linda has a wonderfully warm, raw and evocative way of writing, which will pull you into her story for sure; “Lilia — A true story of Love, Courage and Survival in the Shadow of War.”
“Where are you from, soldier?”
“Mussons. I left Trieste days ago, Signora, and need to get home to my family.”
Her face still immovable, she motioned him to the other room.
“There is a wash basin over by the fireplace. The water is not hot, but it’s clean, and I will round up a change of clothes. You look to be my husband’s size. I’m assuming you’ll want to bury that uniform. The Germans are everywhere, soldier, but they stalk this place like watchdogs at night. It’s best you leave at dawn. Take my husband’s bicycle. It’s leaning against the old barn in the back of our house.”
“Signora, if I might ask, where is your husband?”
The woman ignored his question and went into the kitchen, taking the shotgun with her, before closing the door.
“Thank you, Signora,” Virginio hoped she heard him—and she knew his gratitude was genuine.
Virginio quickly peeled off the damp, mud-sodden clothing—it was heavy as lead as he dropped it on the brick floor. He noticed a wood frame photo on the hearth—a man, flanked on one side by the woman and a young girl on the other. It leaned up against a sizable, tarnished mirror.
Virginio gazed beyond the photo, caught his reflection, and frowned; he looked old and beaten . . . a shell of the man he once was. And his eyes, which had always danced with life and joy, looked tired. He was tired—of everything.
Virginio leaned over the basin and squeezed the washcloth letting the lukewarm water roll down his back. It soothed his aching muscles, and the chill slowly faded from his bones. He heaved a sigh of relief.
Moments later, a soft ray of light glanced off the mirror. Virginio could see the woman watching him silently from the open crack of the door. Although the room was dark, the sorrow—and loneliness—in her eyes was clear as day.
“I have a beautiful daughter at home, too,” he said softly, his back turned to her, “and three young boys and my wife, all waiting for me.” In the mirror, he could see the woman quickly turn away.
“There is soup on the table with extra bread, as well as a flask of water. Take what you need.” Virginio could hear her scurry away and then pause. “I’m sorry if I frightened you. You are lucky—your family . . .” her words trailed off on a quiet whimper. “Be careful on your way home—with your life.” He heard her retreating footsteps as she went upstairs.
Above, a picture of Linda’s mother holding the much awaited and treasured book of her life story as a young girl and her immigration to Canada to start over again.
“After securing my passport and a third-class ticket, I was set to leave my country behind for America on July 25, 1956 aboard the SS Andrea Doria luxury liner. Due to unexpected document delays, immigration moved up my departure date to March 16 on the Saturnia. July 25th, the Andrea Doria collided with MS Stockholm causing numerous casualties, making it one of history’s most tragic maritime disasters. The ship capsized and sank the following morning disappearing into the Atlantic Ocean. My life was spared that day. Destiny had a better plan for me.”
I hope you will find the time to read Lilia… available on Amazon from April 23rd 2021. I think it will be one of those books that stays with you for a long time after you’ve finished reading.
I wish Linda they very best of luck with the book’s release and until next time, thank you so much for joining me. And if you’ve read a fabulous book recently I’d love to hear about it, so please drop me a message below.
With much love, Soulla xxx