Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
Good historical fiction, is there anything quite as satisfying?
Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky tells the story of Pino Lello, a young man coming of age in Italy during World War II. Pino’s parents live in Milan and own a purse store. In 1943, the store is destroyed by bombs, and Pino is sent to live in the Alps with Father Re at a school for boys. This school is meant to keep Pino safe from the destruction of the war. When Pino first arrives, he is sent on arduous hikes through the Alps, and told to try to accomplish these hikes with minimal contact with others. In other words, stay hidden. Pino builds his strength and agility and is soon leading refugees from Italy into the safety of Switzerland. As Pino nears 18 and his conscription is about to come up, his parents enlist him as a German soldier. An injury puts Pino behind the wheel of General Hans Leyer’s car as his driver. As Leyer’s driver, Pino begins to spy on the Nazis.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky has not been a quick read, but it has been a satisfying read. I rank it up with the reading experiences provided by All The Light You Cannot See and The Nightingale. It is a beautifully told and meaningful story worth taking the time to read. Pino Lello is a real man, interviewed by Sullivan for this book. For me, this is the personal side of war, but more significantly, the personal side of integrity and courage. I hope the Pino Lellas of today are depicted with the same heart.