Eternal by Lisa Scottoline is a World War II historical fiction novel that takes place in Rome, the Eternal City. The prologue of the story starts in 1957 when the character Elisabetta decides it is time to tell her thirteen-year-old son who his father really was. She must also explain why she hid the truth from him until he was old enough. Elisabetta knows she must come to grips with the incidents that shaped her youth during the ventennio, which was the twenty years of Mussolini’s rule, and during World War II before she can explain these things to her son.
Then the reader is taken back to Rome, 1937, when Elisabetta and her two best friends, Marco and Sandro are carefree teenagers. Both boys have taken an interest in Elisabetta and she in turns likes both of them. The boys agree to let the best one win her heart. As tensions grow in Italy, so does the relationship of the three friends. Elisabetta’s family disintegrates and she must learn to take care of her alcoholic father and herself by waitressing. Sandro, who is a math genius, is forced out of school since he is Jewish. His father, a tax attorney, becomes active in the Jewish Ghetto community. Sandro’s mother, a beloved OB-GYN, is forced to give up her medical practice. Marco, who has a reading disability, drops out of school and begins working full time for the Fascist government. Unbeknown to him, his brother, Aldo, is working for an anti-fascist group.
The horrors of the war force these young adults to grow up quickly. Their relationships with each other and their families dramatically change throughout the novel. In the end, those who survive the war, know that they are stronger because of their love for each other and their love of Italy.
4-Stars. Book club recommended. The hardcover is 480 pages.
Thanks to Edelweiss + and G. P. Putnam & Sons for my advanced reader copy of this novel. The expected publication date is March 23, 2021.