The protagonist of Beneath a Scarlet Sky, Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.
In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.
Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.
Why I choose “Beneath a Scalet Sky”?
Benito Mussolini was nothing more than a mere homicidal and dastardly dictator and Italy was not in the world war 2 until I read this book’s plot. The forte of the book is mostly due to the exploration of the Italian perspective of WW2 horrors. I’ve read countless books about Germans, Polish, Brits and Americans, so it was extremely refreshing to get a fresh perspective. But is it worth all the hype? Let’s find out!
I’m very particular about the writing style and perhaps it was this very habit that made this book’s language sound like a 6th graders work! It became oh-so-obvious me soon that Beneath a Scarlet Sky could have done with some rounds of extra (heavy) editing. The most horrific and gruesome scenes were left unattended, with all the useless narrations stealing the work (if there was any).
I absolutely detest books which fail to SHOW rather than just “tell” and this DEFINITELY classified as one. It’s obvious it is a fictional book at its best, as the author wanted to drive more audience to his work. But that does NOT give him the right to distort the facts just for the sake of monetary gains. Plus, for his convenience, no proofs of the “spying” exist. For a better spy thriller check out Mossad.
Pino, the boy, is at seventeen, a skilled, racecar driver, a competent auto mechanic, a translator, (understanding French and German, along with his Italian, well enough to be a secretary for a high ranking German general), he is a mountaineer, safely guiding many refugees over the Alps, a master pianist, able to take up playing brilliantly without practice, and even though a virgin is also a wondrous lover first time out.
You get the point, don’t you? It is simply not practical! If any young man did half the things Pino Lella “apparently did”, he’d be as famous as Harry Potter! Not the long-forgotten star of a semi-biographical novel.
I’ll be as frank as I can here. The starting of the book had LOADS and LOADS of potential (which obviously went down the gutter). Pino Lella witnesses the beginning of the destruction in Milan and shifts up to the mountains with his brother to escape it all. The teenagers stayed at a Catholic boys’ school where the priest began to harness the strength and alpine knowledge of 17-year-old Pino to fill a role as a capable mountain guide for Jews trying to escape persecution.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers but this book legit put James Bond to shame! It “claims” that 90% of the events were accurate and that Pino Lella was the spy who saw it all. BULLSHIT! Can someone please tell me how this book classifies as a “semi-biography”? It phoney baloney at its very best.
As the boys moved on, Mimo limped along while rubbing his right hip and complaining. But Pino was barely listening. A tawny-blond woman with slate-blue eyes was coming down the sidewalk right at them. He guessed her to be in her early twenties. She was beautifully put together, with a gentle nose, high cheekbones, and lips that curled naturally into an easy smile. Svelte and of medium height, she wore a yellow summer dress and carried a canvas shopping bag. She turned off the sidewalk and entered a bakery just ahead.Description of Anna Marta
I guess I don’t have to comment. A fifth-grader could have written a better description than this author in Beneath a Scarlet Sky. How this book received stellar reviews is the mystery of my life.
The Movie Adaptation
Though it is not exactly official; BUT Beneath a Scarlet Sky is said to be now turned into a movie adaptation with TOM HOLLAND in the lead!! Another major reason I picked this book up was due to Tom Holland ( yes, I’m a fan) and of course, due to its high ratings everywhere. I’m sure that the movie will be much than the book. Period. Why? Because Hollywood isn’t realistic and that’s all right but books? Nah, we like em’ the way it is in real life.
All in All
I hated Beneath a Scarlet Sky for all it was worth and hope to never read such garbage ever again. But the movie? I’m gonna watch it anyways. Because, when its Tom Holland, you gotta go with the flow.