Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel Info

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Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures,
starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero,
the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a
Scarlet Sky
is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s
incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest
hours.

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.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot
See
, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this
riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel:

2

May 10, 2017

2ish stars.

Based on the experiences of Pino Lella, an unsung WWII hero, the events at the heart of this book are incredible and inspiring. Sullivan, though obviously well-meaning, presents them here in what is more or less a bloated, commercialized, color-by-number hagiography.

Somehow present at just about as many significant events during WWII as one can be, Pino deftly overcomes every obstacle in his path. While - again - incredible and inspiring, there's not much in the way of tension or 2ish stars.

Based on the experiences of Pino Lella, an unsung WWII hero, the events at the heart of this book are incredible and inspiring. Sullivan, though obviously well-meaning, presents them here in what is more or less a bloated, commercialized, color-by-number hagiography.

Somehow present at just about as many significant events during WWII as one can be, Pino deftly overcomes every obstacle in his path. While - again - incredible and inspiring, there's not much in the way of tension or suspense, especially for a book styled as a WWII thriller. The pacing is inconsistent; some horrific, gut-wrenching events are bizarrely skimmed over, while other insignificant ones are unnecessarily drawn out. I suppose all of these things can be forgiven - there are only so many liberties one can take with (what we’re led to believe is) a (partially) fact-based story - but I could never get over the weak, awkward dialogue and amateurish prose.

Ultimately a worthy tale and a worthy effort to tell it. But while the story is incredible and inspiring, the book in which it gets told is only alright.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library ...more
2

Nov 01, 2017

2 1/2 stars. This was nowhere near as engaging as I would expect from a book that has a 4.4 average rating over 48,000+ readers.

The strength of Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes from it's exploration of the Italian experience under Mussolini during the Second World War. I know almost nothing about what happened here, despite having read A LOT of books and memoirs set during this time. I've read countless tales about the Germans, Polish, the British and the Americans, so it was extremely refreshing to 2 1/2 stars. This was nowhere near as engaging as I would expect from a book that has a 4.4 average rating over 48,000+ readers.

The strength of Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes from it's exploration of the Italian experience under Mussolini during the Second World War. I know almost nothing about what happened here, despite having read A LOT of books and memoirs set during this time. I've read countless tales about the Germans, Polish, the British and the Americans, so it was extremely refreshing to get a new perspective.

Also, Sullivan interviewed the real Pino Lella - the protagonist of this book - and based much of the story on his tales and memories. It is a fictionalized, much-embellished true story, which makes it even more effective to many, I'm sure.

That being said, the writing really does leave something to be desired. Writing style is not something I comment on too often, but it was obvious to me as soon as I began reading that - at the very least - Beneath a Scarlet Sky could have done with some extra rounds of (heavy) editing.

And I know that the author's starting disclaimer is basically a cute way of saying "Look, some parts are absolute bullshit that I made up to make the story more interesting" but my suspension of disbelief was strained a bit when Pino's life becomes something of a superhero tale. Dramatic event after dramatic event unfolds, and I feel that if a young guy really did do half the things Pino Lella apparently did then he would be as famous as Harry Potter. Not the long-forgotten star of a semi-biographical novel.

The history is interesting.
The story is, on occasion, compelling.
But true, semi-true, maybe true? Yeah, I'm not convinced.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube ...more
2

Sep 06, 2017

I know I've been gone, but I'm back now so don't worry I'll be clogging your feeds with my garbage reviews again now. I already started reading my next book.

A semi biographical story about an Italian teenager Pino Lella who is sent to a convent after Allied forces airstrike destroys his home in Milan. At the convent he helps the priest smuggle out Jews to Switzerland who have come there for help. He meets and falls in love with Anna, an older widow. Eventually he is called home and made to join I know I've been gone, but I'm back now so don't worry I'll be clogging your feeds with my garbage reviews again now. I already started reading my next book.

A semi biographical story about an Italian teenager Pino Lella who is sent to a convent after Allied forces airstrike destroys his home in Milan. At the convent he helps the priest smuggle out Jews to Switzerland who have come there for help. He meets and falls in love with Anna, an older widow. Eventually he is called home and made to join the army for protection. Eventually he uses his position in the army as a driver to one of the most powerful German generals to spy for the Allies.

There are so many positive reviews for this book but I honestly hated it. It was difficult for me to finish this book. I have been busy and not had as much time to read but at the same time this book was part of the reason I haven't read anything in weeks because it was just so boring that I didn't even feel like reading really, it felt like torture reading it. I don't think it was the story itself that was the problem but the execution. It was painfully boring and the author just kept telling and not showing us anything or illustrating things for us. There was no suspense built up and I felt zero attachment to any of the characters, even though they're real people. This has to be one of the hardest books I've forced myself to finish reading just because it felt like there was so much unnecessary detail included and because everything was just told out without really a narrative or story line to help build up my interest. Thank god I'm done with it. ...more
5

Jun 23, 2017

One feature of every hugely engaging novel is that it’s palpable throughout that the author has invested a great deal of heart and imagination into the narrative. This is far from always the case. There’s sometimes a sense an author is fulfilling a contractual obligation or is never quite inspired by his/her characters or story. This is one of those novels where it’s obvious the author has thrown himself heart and soul into his material and achieved an imaginative identification with its hero so One feature of every hugely engaging novel is that it’s palpable throughout that the author has invested a great deal of heart and imagination into the narrative. This is far from always the case. There’s sometimes a sense an author is fulfilling a contractual obligation or is never quite inspired by his/her characters or story. This is one of those novels where it’s obvious the author has thrown himself heart and soul into his material and achieved an imaginative identification with its hero so intense that he is able to write as if he experienced everything first hand. The visual detail throughout was especially mesmerising.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the fictionalised true story of a young Italian boy’s experiences during WW2. Pino Lella never spoke about his wartime exploits until he was an old man. There was a reason for this. Despite his heroics he has carried with him a harrowing haunting secret, a secret he believes to be shameful. We won’t find out what this secret is until the latter part of the novel.

Pino performs two wartime roles – firstly he becomes the guide of an underground escape route for Jewish families fleeing to Switzerland. Later he becomes the driver of one of the most powerful Nazi generals in Italy. In this role he wears a German uniform and the swastika armband, much to the disgust of many of his family, friends and countrymen. However, unknown to everyone, even his brother, he is working as a spy.

At one point there’s the suspicion this book is too long. The war in Milan is over and yet there are still over a hundred pages to go. But the huge surprise now is the tension is ratcheted up even further. The final hundred pages are the most intense of the novel, quite a feat considering how exciting the narrative has been throughout.

One problem with fictionalising real life is it doesn’t always offer the resolutions that are a vital part of the form of the novel. We need to feel a story has sense, that all the loose threads are eventually embroidered into the tapestry. I was worrying about this towards the end. I was especially thinking of a minor and yet oddly significant character who appeared early in the narrative but then vanished. I found I wanted to know what happened to him. Then, lo and behold, he reappears. This is another extraordinary facet of Pino’s life – it often assumes the tidy order of a novel. This is most astonishingly true when he discovers the maid of his general’s mistress is the older woman he once on an impulse asked for a date on the streets of Milan. Anna, the woman, becomes the love of his love. It’s like there’s no such thing as a random encounter in Pino’s life. All the dots are joined. This is further emphasised in the brief account of Pino’s post-war life – one day he meets an old friend who persuades him to cancel the flight he’s booked on so they can catch up – the flight he cancels is the infamous Lockerbie flight that crashes in Scotland. He also tries to dissuade James Dean from buying the Porsche that killed him when he’s working as a car salesman in California! His instinct is Dean won’t be able to handle the power of the car.

I will say there is one resolution we don’t get, which is the mystery of the German officer he works for. The author endeavours to clear him up at the end of the novel but the vital mystery of him eludes him.

Anyway, this was a fabulous read. A stunning feat of research and imaginative identification and gripping storytelling. ...more
5

Nov 07, 2017

This is a fascinating book about WWII in Italy. I’ve read so much about Northern Europe during the war, but this is the first book about what took place in Italy. It follows the story of a real life teenager, beginning in 1943 when he guides Jews over the mountain pass to Switzerland and through the events that have him end up as a spy for the Allies.

The story is well told and engaging. The characters seem real. Too often, historical characters come across as wooden or two dimensional, as if This is a fascinating book about WWII in Italy. I’ve read so much about Northern Europe during the war, but this is the first book about what took place in Italy. It follows the story of a real life teenager, beginning in 1943 when he guides Jews over the mountain pass to Switzerland and through the events that have him end up as a spy for the Allies.

The story is well told and engaging. The characters seem real. Too often, historical characters come across as wooden or two dimensional, as if the author is afraid to give them feelings or characteristics that would paint them as less than heroic. Here, you get the full gamut of feelings, including fear, confusion and hate.

Last week included All Saint’s Day and Father Re would certainly be included among them. It’s heartwarming to learn about those whose faith is so strong that fear takes a backseat.

Sullivan also excels in painting General Leyers. When he asks Pino if he hates him, Pino is afraid to answer truthfully. But Leyers says “yes, you do...it would be surprising if you didn’t hate me for what I’ve had to do today. A part of me hates myself...So here in Italy, and in your eyes, I’m a criminal. Back home, I’ll be an unsung hero. Good. Evil. It’s all a matter of perspective, is it not?”

Lots of action here, especially as the war is ending. I’ve read there’s a movie of this in the works and you can see why it was picked up. Some of the scenes are amazing, more so for knowing they really happened.

Highly recommend this one!

...more
4

May 03, 2019

what a comfort it is to know that, even in the most desperate and tragically unfathomable of circumstances, courage and love are possible and can be found.

but what i enjoyed most about this story is how it educated me on the impact of WWII in italy. italy is rarely the focus for novels on the subject - even though the jewish community of italy was greatly affected, it is hardly ever talked about due to the massive destruction of documents and records, as well as the collective amnesia of what a comfort it is to know that, even in the most desperate and tragically unfathomable of circumstances, courage and love are possible and can be found.

but what i enjoyed most about this story is how it educated me on the impact of WWII in italy. italy is rarely the focus for novels on the subject - even though the jewish community of italy was greatly affected, it is hardly ever talked about due to the massive destruction of documents and records, as well as the collective amnesia of italians (the unwillingness to remember and talk about their struggles) after the war. so how fortunate is it that stories like this, stories about the braveness and resilience of the italian people in the face of true horror, are finally being shared.

and i feel rather heartless giving a book with that sort of gravity anything less than 5 stars, but i was very let down when it came to the writing and the way the story is told. i would have much rather heard the story told from pino himself, as i dont think mark sullivan did his story justice. the writing is very awkward and doesnt evoke the sense of emotion i would have hoped for from a story as memorable as this.

regardless, i am still grateful i read this, for there are so many valuable lessons taught within this book. lessons on what it means to be human, how far one can go to do whats right, how love can be found anywhere, and most importantly, the power of courage and hope. historic lessons and stories like this need to be recorded so that they will never be forgotten.

↠ 3.5 stars ...more
4

May 13, 2017

3.5 stars. Beneath a Scarlet Sky gets high marks for telling an interesting story about Italy at the end of WWII. It gets middling marks from me for the delivery. Author Mark T. Sullivan has written a fictionalized account of Pino Selle's Iife during the last year of WWII. Pino was an 18 year old Italian boy compelled to enlist as a German soldier by his family in occupied Milan -- this is how they thought he could stay safe. He ended up working as a driver for a high ranking Nazi officer 3.5 stars. Beneath a Scarlet Sky gets high marks for telling an interesting story about Italy at the end of WWII. It gets middling marks from me for the delivery. Author Mark T. Sullivan has written a fictionalized account of Pino Selle's Iife during the last year of WWII. Pino was an 18 year old Italian boy compelled to enlist as a German soldier by his family in occupied Milan -- this is how they thought he could stay safe. He ended up working as a driver for a high ranking Nazi officer stationed in Milan -- and also working as a spy for the Italian resistance. Sullivan had the benefit of first hand interviews with 89 year old Pino. As I say, it's a fascinating story. But the delivery could have been better. The writing is very simple and straightforward, which is not necessarily a flaw but may be off putting to some readers. To me, the book did suffer from being longer than necessary. I also felt that Sullivan paints Pino as unrealistically heroic -- he comes across as larger than life and as having emotions that are much simpler than he likely experienced at the time. Whether you are bothered by the weaknesses in the delivery will likely depend on what you are looking for. Great story but simplistic delivery. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy. ...more
2

Jun 04, 2017

My 14 year old is a military history buff, and I'm pretty sure he will enjoy this simple work of historical fiction set in WWII Italy. Me? Not so much.

GOOD STUFF: I learned that groups of Italians - loosely organized by priests and archbishops of the Catholic church - were active in smuggling Jewish refugees over the Alps and into Switzerland to keep them out of the Nazi reach. Getting a feel for the timeline of the German presence in Italy and how it was marked by milestones of Allied My 14 year old is a military history buff, and I'm pretty sure he will enjoy this simple work of historical fiction set in WWII Italy. Me? Not so much.

GOOD STUFF: I learned that groups of Italians - loosely organized by priests and archbishops of the Catholic church - were active in smuggling Jewish refugees over the Alps and into Switzerland to keep them out of the Nazi reach. Getting a feel for the timeline of the German presence in Italy and how it was marked by milestones of Allied advancement was also pretty interesting. Jewish and political prisoners were treated horrifically in Italy, something not commonly written about - disturbing, but we need to know these things.

SQUIRRELY STUFF: The incessant series of coincidences that put the protagonist - a REAL PERSON named Pino Lella - in probably 40 or more highly unlikely situations sucked nearly all credibility from the story. In the real world of the early 1940s, Mr. Lella was a 17 year old who had been sent with his younger brother up into the mountains to escape the bombings that had begun in Milan. 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 capable mountain guide for Jews trying to escape persecution.

While this section of the book was compelling, the author popped in his first bits of far-fetched "small world" run ins that ultimately doomed my reading experience. I kept envisioning a young Tom Hanks busting out of his leg braces at a full gallop and quoting Mama. "Stupid is as stupid does" - but in Italian - when he was randomly asked to act as translator for Mussolini. I'm not the first person to see the unfortunate Forrest Gump parallel, but because I regarded the book as being either geared for a Young Adult audience - or that population of adults who read maybe just one book a year - I initially let the incessant coincidences slide.

When young Pino enlists with the Nazis (to avoid being drafted and being sent to the Russian front), he conveniently bumped into major players with the gestapo, served water to half starved Jews, was the sole eye witness to a bombing’s perpetrator, and more unlikely Gumpish happenings. He - a teenager who’d only recently learned to drive - expertly chauffered his officer's car to engage in a dog fight with a dive bombing fighter plane, intent on its repeated overhead assassination attempts of the car’s inhabitants. James Bond could not have done a better job. All of these and other farfetched incidents snowballed into one big hunk of questionability for me.

There is another WWII era book out called Mischling where the fictional twin sisters, just like Pino and Forrest, end up witnessing every major event to have happened in that particular site over a period of years. Do you remember those long horizontal posters from elementary school science class where every single known dinosaur and shark and invertebrate and fish and tree was illustrated into a single setting? Yes, those are called dioramas, and that is precisely what this book felt like... an unrealistic conglomerate of events. These kind of books are just fine - they’re enlightening clusters of factoids - but only when the reader isn’t expected to believe the main character actually experienced it all in real life. Mischling was a very good read, and this book could have been too.

The writing style, vocabulary, and format are fifth grade level - not a bad thing for the general masses of reluctant readers out there - and because of that seemingly "targeted" audience, I further forgave the ridiculousness.

UNFORTUNATE STUFF: The flip side to assigning dozens and dozens of unlikely outcomes to one single real world person made me doubt exactly what role Pino Lella played. What a shame that a book that probably promised to honor the sacrifices made by Mr. Lella now have me (a cynic) questioning exactly what he did do in the war. I mean, he DID enlist with the Nazis. Part of me wondered if the outlandish acts of heroism and espionage and coincidence were mere whoppers that some Italian dude concocted years later so nobody would think ill of him for signing up with the Axes forced. I'm NOT accusing - but the way this story was written sure did have me wondering - and that stink is on the author, not Mr. Lella.

The names and roles and timeframes for the German officers, priests, and other real people are (I've read) pretty badly botched too, but it is my understanding that the publisher originally claimed that this "Based on Actual Events" book was 90% perfectly accurate. As armchair historians started digging up background info - because hey! it IS a compelling story! - the controversy of how much exaggeration and creative license and blarney was employed grew.

Some of this is familiar turf for avid readers. A Million Little Pieces was a beautifully written "memoir" by James Frey that turned out to be more invention than biography. Poor Dave Eggers got hoodwinked by the wolf in sheep's clothing that was the man in Zeitoun. In those instances, however, it was the author Frey intentionally deceiving us and then Zeitoun deceiving author Eggers. Here, I've no idea what to believe or disbelieve, and it is Pino Lella who gets questioned because of this writer Sullivan.

In sum, had Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox showed up (speaking Italian), I would not have been surprised.

Great story. Poor writing. ...more
4

Sep 07, 2019

This is a 3 1/2 rounded up to a 4 because the story is about a real person and there is some good history here and obvious meticulous research.

I thought the writing was good and it flowed well but more editing would definitely have helped. There was too much detailed information about every single trip that Pino drove for the General. There also seemed to be a lot of "close calls" in situations that Pino found himself in. I would like to know if this is all true or based on memory?

This review This is a 3 1/2 rounded up to a 4 because the story is about a real person and there is some good history here and obvious meticulous research.

I thought the writing was good and it flowed well but more editing would definitely have helped. There was too much detailed information about every single trip that Pino drove for the General. There also seemed to be a lot of "close calls" in situations that Pino found himself in. I would like to know if this is all true or based on memory?

This review is going to be short because it's an older library book and there are tons of reviews already out there :)

My favorite part of the novel are the early years helping Fr. Re take many refugees people across the mountains to freedom. In this section the detailed descriptions were much appreciated when describing the beauty of the mountains in this area. Pino grew in so many ways during those years as we watched him become a great skier, a great hiker and mountaineer and a fighter for freedom.

I enjoyed the way the author caught the early youthful innocence, resilience, idealism, etc that were displayed not just by Pino but all of the young people involved in this story.

I have read other book about WWII in Italy and this would be especially informative if you don't know any of this history. Historical fiction is my favorite genre so I've read a lot of WWII book, my very favorite book about this time period is A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell.

I know that I will spend some time looking up the real Pino Lella and more facts about him.

This is an enjoyable historical novel with strong character development. ...more
2

May 17, 2017

The story of Pino Lella is amazing. The writing of Mark Sullivan is dreadful. It reads like it was written by a sixth grader, full of cliches and bad metaphors. I brought this book on vacation and was so excited to read it based on the description on the back cover. What a disappointment.
5

Apr 05, 2017

This was beautifully written. The events really happened but the author had to add conversations that the subject obviously could not remember decades later word for word. I liked seeing the Holocaust from the viewpoint of what happened in Italy. Most books include little if anything about the suffering that both Mussolini and Hitler wreaked on Italians, both Jews and non-Jews. An amazing book I highly recommend.
2

Jan 28, 2018

Although I read it quickly, Beneath a Scarlet Sky did not live up to the beauty of its cover. This was recommended to me so that's mostly why I finished it. I should not have read my Goodreads friends' reviews because they were very critical.

One reason they were, which I think is the most damning is that although it's purported to be the true life story of Pino Lella, a hero of WW 2, there is little supporting evidence for his story and some of the incidents the author reports seem unlikely to Although I read it quickly, Beneath a Scarlet Sky did not live up to the beauty of its cover. This was recommended to me so that's mostly why I finished it. I should not have read my Goodreads friends' reviews because they were very critical.

One reason they were, which I think is the most damning is that although it's purported to be the true life story of Pino Lella, a hero of WW 2, there is little supporting evidence for his story and some of the incidents the author reports seem unlikely to have all happened to the same person, let alone a teenage boy.

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. ...more
5

Apr 21, 2017

This book brought me to tears

This is far and away one of the best books ever on Kindle First. It's a riveting story of love and righteousness. I won't give away more than that. If you want to know the perspective of an Italian during World War II, this is worth the read.
3

Nov 03, 2017

3 neutral stars

The book synopsis sums up the first 35% of the novel really well. Therefore, I am not going to summarize the plot here. I didn't hate Beneath a Scarlet Sky, but I didn't really love this book either. I did love the cover, the title, and that this was a WWII era book situated in Italy. Most of the books I read are heavy on the France/Poland narrative and I appreciated the different angle. I will say that it was refreshing to have a male protagonist be shown in a very different 3 neutral stars

The book synopsis sums up the first 35% of the novel really well. Therefore, I am not going to summarize the plot here. I didn't hate Beneath a Scarlet Sky, but I didn't really love this book either. I did love the cover, the title, and that this was a WWII era book situated in Italy. Most of the books I read are heavy on the France/Poland narrative and I appreciated the different angle. I will say that it was refreshing to have a male protagonist be shown in a very different light. I have read a few reviews that speculate that Mark T. Sullivan was showcasing the young Pino as somewhat of a superhero.

On the contrary, I was stunned by how incredibly naive Pino was. About rule under Mussolini, the rounding up of the Jewish people, and the oversimplification of the Catholic Church not wanting to take a stand against Adolf Hitler. But the biggest problem I had and where Sullivan really lost me was Pino's involvement as a spy. That is where I begin to question the validity of the story that was being retold on the pages. Maybe I am just not as trusting,but there is something whispering in my ear to be cautious about this tale.

I know, I know, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is rumoured to be a major film starring Tom Holland and the interviews I read from many online websites, including the UK times. The times claim it the "forgotten true story of a real hero who saved Jewish people " and I am sure many people will flock to the cinema and be bowled over by a man who fought against the Nazi occupiers, but I just am not won over by this book. I feel it is in the same category as "All the Light We Cannot See which also received glowing reviews, but was another "ok, I am still the same person after reading this book." Am I becoming more infused with cynicism as I get older?

All in all, it didn't work for me, but it just might for someone else. ...more
4

Mar 15, 2018

What a life Pino Lella! What a life!

That one man can have endured so much, achieved so much and yet also be such an unknown boggles the mind. The book was part biography, part fiction because even with extensive research there were many unanswered questions about this horrendous time in Italy's history. I knew little about Italy's WWII story and found this story to be eye opening. The book took me a long time to read. It was one that I found myself having to put down and walk away from because What a life Pino Lella! What a life!

That one man can have endured so much, achieved so much and yet also be such an unknown boggles the mind. The book was part biography, part fiction because even with extensive research there were many unanswered questions about this horrendous time in Italy's history. I knew little about Italy's WWII story and found this story to be eye opening. The book took me a long time to read. It was one that I found myself having to put down and walk away from because of all the atrocities, heartache and tragic events in Pino's life. Knowing that these things happened made it harder to read at times. The book would have earned 5 stars for Pino's "story" but the writing style fell a bit flat for me at times. Thankfully, Pino's life experiences spoke loudly over the writing. His story would definitely merit 5 stars! ...more
5

Aug 06, 2018

A powerful book, that ai highly recommend. I have read many books on this subject but none from the viewpoint of Italy. An excellent read.
1

Aug 24, 2017

The vocabulary and sentence structure seem geared toward about fifth grade. 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 The vocabulary and sentence structure seem geared toward about fifth grade. 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.
This book might be very good for those willing to look beyond prose, but it is not for me. I should have known when I saw that James Patterson was praising it, and steered clear. DNF'd at about 35 pages. ...more
4

Feb 18, 2018

I enjoyed this suspenseful World War II story set in Italy under Nazi occupation. I love WWII fiction and don't believe I have ever read a book from the Italian perspective. The author makes it clear in the preface that this is not a biography or historical novel, but a work of fiction based on the life of Pino Lella. With that firmly in my mind, I didn't really mind Sullivan's embellishments to Lella's story, although it did seem as though Lella was personally present at every single I enjoyed this suspenseful World War II story set in Italy under Nazi occupation. I love WWII fiction and don't believe I have ever read a book from the Italian perspective. The author makes it clear in the preface that this is not a biography or historical novel, but a work of fiction based on the life of Pino Lella. With that firmly in my mind, I didn't really mind Sullivan's embellishments to Lella's story, although it did seem as though Lella was personally present at every single significant historical event in Italy between 1943 and 1945. Busy guy!

My favorite part of the novel was the beginning, when Pino was in the Alps with Father Re. I thought Sullivan did a great job with the beautiful Alpine setting and creating tension as Pino helped Italian Jews escape into Switzerland. That alone would have been a great story. My least favorite part was the love story between Pino and Anna. I don't know why, but it felt more like a teenager's fantasy than a real love affair.

One other thing that I thought was odd - this novel feels very much like young adult fiction. The writing was quite juvenile, as though it was written to that audience. I don't know if Sullivan did that deliberately to make it sound more like the teen-aged Lella's thoughts or if that's just his writing syle. It didn't work for me - I wish the writing had been less prosaic and more lyrical, or at least geared toward more mature readers.

Still, the story is the thing here and it was hard to put the book down. A 3 for the writing and a 4 for the story. If you want a more accurate account of Lella's life, you can always look it up online, which I always do anyway after reading historical fiction. By the way, this is going to be a movie with Tom Holland (the new Spiderman) in the lead role. I think this could be an amazing movie! ...more
4

Feb 07, 2019

5 STARS for content and 3 STARS for the writing.
Rounding up to 4 STARS on this one!

What an impressive history of survival, grief and love!

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is based on the true story of Pino Lella who lived in Milan, Italy and was a spy for the Allies. Before he was a spy, he was working underground and helping Jews escape over the Alps. After doing this for a year or two, his parents forced him to enlist as a German soldier.

In order to strike back against his Italian parents, he decides to 5 STARS for content and 3 STARS for the writing.
Rounding up to 4 STARS on this one!

What an impressive history of survival, grief and love!

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is based on the true story of Pino Lella who lived in Milan, Italy and was a spy for the Allies. Before he was a spy, he was working underground and helping Jews escape over the Alps. After doing this for a year or two, his parents forced him to enlist as a German soldier.

In order to strike back against his Italian parents, he decides to join the resistance and fight the Nazi’s. He ends up turning into a spy and becomes the personal driver for General Hans Leyers. General Leyers was one of the Third Reich’s most powerful commanders operating out of Northern Italy. Leyers was involved with war strategy, weapons and infrastructure. He was one of Hitler's top men.

What guts Pino Lella had to live this double sided life!
I really enjoyed the story and content of this book. It was an amazing life he led during the war.

The only thing that I found lacking was the writing.
I did not think that Mark Sullivan’s writing was that epic. It was okay but if he’d wrote a less interesting story, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it.
At the end of this book, I should have been a hot mess with tears streaming down my face, but I wasn’t.
I'm not sure what was lacking about the writing, but it didn’t evoke pain, sadness or rage in me. I definitely had rage when Auschwitz was brought up, along with the hunting and killing of millions of Jews, disabled people and anyone fighting the Nazi's.

But back to the writing. It was just okay. I guess that’s still better then terrible!

Thank you real life book club for picking this for the month. I learned a lot more about WWII reading this book. The story was fascinating, and I was in awe of all the people that fought against the Nazi regime!!

Recommended for fans of historical fiction and WWII history buffs! ...more
5

Nov 19, 2017

Masterful tale of a young man’s courageous struggle to fight for the greater good during the Nazi occupation of Milan during World War II.

SUMMARY
Although a work of fiction this novel is based on a true story with a real hero. At the heart of the story is a normal seventeen-year-old Italian boy named Pino Lella. He is obsessed with music, finding a girl, and falling in love. But then in 1943, the bombs start dropping on Milan and his family home is destroyed. His parents send him to a camp in Masterful tale of a young man’s courageous struggle to fight for the greater good during the Nazi occupation of Milan during World War II.

SUMMARY
Although a work of fiction this novel is based on a true story with a real hero. At the heart of the story is a normal seventeen-year-old Italian boy named Pino Lella. He is obsessed with music, finding a girl, and falling in love. But then in 1943, the bombs start dropping on Milan and his family home is destroyed. His parents send him to a camp in the mountains to escape the bombardment and the occupation. While in the mountains he guides Jewish refugees across rugged terrain to the Swiss border. When he returns to Milan his parents surprisingly insist that he voluntarily join the German army in order to avoid the draft and having to fight on the front lines. Pino’s role in the army as a driver for a high ranking German general, allows him to witness significant events during the war. Pino uses these opportunities to spy for the partisans until the war ends in 1945.


REVIEW
This is an unforgettable, authentic story of courage, love and forgiveness. Mark Sullivan’s amazing writing transports us to Milan in 1943 where he has captured the fear and anguish of the turbulent times. This epic novel is steeped in personal accounts of events, and as a result the details, dialogs and emotions are mesmerizing. Sullivan’s opportunity to interview the seventy-year old Pino Lella allowed Pino’s character in the book to come to life. Beneath A Scarlet Sky is full of ups and downs, trials and triumphs and love and heartbreak. I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates historical fiction. This is one of my very favorite books of 2017. ...more
4

Jan 23, 2018

Pino Lella was a typical teenager coming of age in Milan when the Nazis started their rampage. Afraid for their safety, Pino and his brother Mimo were sent by their parents to the countryside to Casa Alpina (a school for boys run by Catholic priests). Pino though can not sit idly and soon is involved in the underground resistance helping Jews get to Switzerland. Almost eighteen years old, Pino is signed up with the German army and unexpectadly finds a job as a driver for General Hans Leyers, Pino Lella was a typical teenager coming of age in Milan when the Nazis started their rampage. Afraid for their safety, Pino and his brother Mimo were sent by their parents to the countryside to Casa Alpina (a school for boys run by Catholic priests). Pino though can not sit idly and soon is involved in the underground resistance helping Jews get to Switzerland. Almost eighteen years old, Pino is signed up with the German army and unexpectadly finds a job as a driver for General Hans Leyers, Hitler's right hand in Italy. Pino is tasked with espying on the general and relaying any intel to the resistance. Despite the risks, Pino accepts and his brave act will remain unknown.

Dealing with WWII, Italy and the Nazi regime this is one thoroughly researched historical fiction book. Pino Lella's life takes a dramatic turn when he becomes the driver to General Leyers, Hitler's right hand in Italy. While its an ideal position to spy, its also a very dangerous one. Having helped smuggle Jews to Switzerland, Pino is not new to helping the resistance but he'll have to don a swastika to be of help this time around. Despite his young age, Pino looks at the greater good. A compelling and inspirational narrative, this book was quite appealing to me. When it comes to Italy and WWII, the history is somewhat bare in comparison to that of other countries. While I love the narrative, I did feel the book to be too long and the prose was not always precise. Still, this is a strong work and I would recommend it.

Pino Lella remained quiet for sixty years about his war experience. Not even his wifes knew (Pino was married twice). It was upon learning about Pino that author Mark Sullivan traveled to Italy and interviewed him. Mr. Lella felt shame for having worn the infamous Nazi symbol in order to spy not realizing the sheer courage it took to take on such a task. Sullivan spent ten years on this book, travelling to Italy and Germany multiple times to verify information. Most people and events in this book are real but due to lack of paperwork and the pass of time some of the content had to be filled by Sullivan (Sullivan originally wanted this to be a work of nonfiction). Pino led quite an interesting life following the war. He sold luxury cars in Beverly Hills (and was quite adept at driving them too), he became a ski instructor and met James Dean, Gary Cooper and Ernest Hemingway. His greatest achievement though, is his role as spy in the war. His bravery is admirable and he is a true hero. Thanks to Mr. Sullivan for bringing his story to the forefront. Its reported that the movie rights of the book have been sold with Tom Holland to play the lead. Will be looking forward to it. ...more
3

May 07, 2018

3 I so wished I could have loved it stars
5 stars for the bravery that Pino and others showed

This should have been a book I adored. It had all the elements of what I so enjoy in my books, heroes, World War 2, courage, nobility in the face of devastation and yet this novel left me feeling oddly displeased.

This is the story of a seventeen year old young man living in Italy during the war. He is sent away because his parents fear for his and his bother's safety. They are sent to a school in the Alps 3 I so wished I could have loved it stars
5 stars for the bravery that Pino and others showed

This should have been a book I adored. It had all the elements of what I so enjoy in my books, heroes, World War 2, courage, nobility in the face of devastation and yet this novel left me feeling oddly displeased.

This is the story of a seventeen year old young man living in Italy during the war. He is sent away because his parents fear for his and his bother's safety. They are sent to a school in the Alps run by Catholic priests. The boys are eventually asked to embark on missions to help secret Jews away to Switzerland. The job these boys understood was not only dangerous because of the weather, the climbing, and the Nazis, but it also required the boys to be physically and mentally strong and agile. Pino and Mimo gladly accept the task and they guide many Jews to safety. When Pino approaches his eighteenth birthday, his parents call him home from the school fearing the draft, knowing that the Italian army will send him to fight in Russia which was certain death. They have him enlist in the Nazi army and it is through his facility with languages that he becomes a driver for General Leyes, a powerful Nazi.

Pino Lella and his brother were true heroes and while Pino went on to be a spy while being the driver of a high ranking Nazi general, Mimo eventually joins the resistance. Of course what Pino is doing must be hidden so many of his friends and even relatives abhor his being a Nazi. He, at many times is the recipient of scorn and hatred. The war continues, Pino finds the girl, Anna, working as a maid for the mistress of General Leyes. He had been attracted to her previously. Anna and Pino connect, fall in love, and become lovers.

The tension and the possibility of Pino's capture and the secrets he carries to his aunt and uncle makes for the bulk of the book. We learn of what he has witnessed, the transportation of the Jews to Auschwitz, the murders committed and the brutality of the Nazi overlords, the robbing of the Italian treasury, the robbing of Italian treasures and the taking of lives of the innocent.

So why did this book fall flat for me? I have to think that sometimes an author tries too hard to cram every thought, every deed, every moment into a story. For me, that often makes for a read that I find overburdened with wordiness. What Pino and others did was amazing on so many levels. Their courage, their ability to face adversity was awe inspiring. I just wish the author had been able to inspire that awe in me.

Thank you to my local library for purchasing this book for all to read.
You can find my reviews at my blog https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres... ...more
4

Jul 27, 2018

Lives are lost during wars. We know this. Others are forever changed because of them, as family and friends do not return home, for many the reason is never known. Love can also begin, but then sometimes it's stolen before it has the chance to fully blossom. And there are also the stories of unaccountable bravery. Men and women who give or try, even if only a little, to fight oppression and wrong. Very often, much more than a little was given. And with those, there are stories that are Lives are lost during wars. We know this. Others are forever changed because of them, as family and friends do not return home, for many the reason is never known. Love can also begin, but then sometimes it's stolen before it has the chance to fully blossom. And there are also the stories of unaccountable bravery. Men and women who give or try, even if only a little, to fight oppression and wrong. Very often, much more than a little was given. And with those, there are stories that are forgotten. Maybe it's due to time passing, or maybe because those who experience war prefer silence to remembering the pain. All I mentioned occurred in Pino Lella's life during World War II, in a span of a mere 2 years. Unbelievably, he was only 17. Circumstance certainly played a role in where Pino often found himself, but isn't it what we do with the circumstance given us? From what I read, he would have been the first to say, “I'm no hero”, because there were moments he truly regretted. A moment in which he called himself a coward. But no Pino, you were never that.

I'm caught between completely loving this true story (yes, it's based on a real life. Amazing really – I think some may argue against simply because of that word), and not wholly loving the writing. It's not hard to love a person like Pino, or feel deeply for what he and his family went through in the midst of war. The story is great, the writing is good for certain, but not always expressive. Straightforward prose, not beautiful. Bottom line though, I will not forget my time in it, nor this man's life. ...more
5

Mar 23, 2018

My Opinion:
This was a brilliantly written, and brutally honest book of one man's life in WW2. He went from being a child to becoming a man, a spy, a friend, and a lover. This tale is so emotional and heart wrenching that you can't help but fall in love with every minute of this book. WOW, just WOW. I can't even imagine going and doing any of these things. This was so well written and the tale told so well and with such emotion, it left me speechless. I don't even know how to explain this book or My Opinion:
This was a brilliantly written, and brutally honest book of one man's life in WW2. He went from being a child to becoming a man, a spy, a friend, and a lover. This tale is so emotional and heart wrenching that you can't help but fall in love with every minute of this book. WOW, just WOW. I can't even imagine going and doing any of these things. This was so well written and the tale told so well and with such emotion, it left me speechless. I don't even know how to explain this book or give it the justice it deserves. I don't think I know the right words for it, but I will try my best.

This tale is about a boy of 17 years old that was helping jewish people escape the nazis during WW2. He would take them over the Alps and into Switzerland. These are death defining mountains that he took regular people like me and you through to survive. TO SURVIVE!!! He did this for many months and then came his time to enlist with the Nazis or to become a rebel (partisan) against them. With the help of his father and uncle he makes his choice and became a Nazis and then became a spy. His life was always in peril because of this and did not tell many what he was doing. He wasn't allowed to tell many including his brother for fear of anyone being tortured for it.

The fighting, the plight of the slaves, the peril of being discovered. This book just emotionally has you hooked. It lacked all the gore, but not the depth of what he saw during his time as a soldier. Amazing tale of about 2 years of being a hero both in helping people escape through the Alps and being a spy in the Nazis army for the resistance. I cried several times during this tale. The fingers of the child, the starvation, the woman's plea, Anna, Carleto and for Pino himself. The firing squad. Oh, god..This book is just so amazing. AMAZING.

Just so you know I do not usually read biographies or WW2 books or war books at all. So, for this to have me enthralled and loving it, says something about this book. I feel in love with Pino and his family and Father Re. Wonderful book, brilliantly written and a must read book. Get it, you will not be disappointed!


I give this book 5 of 5 stars! ...more
5

May 23, 2017

This was available on Kindle First, and sounded like a fresh take on WW II for me. Both the subject of the novel, a young man who actually lived through these extraordinary times and experiences, and the author had compelling stories, and it caught my interest. I bought it in book form as there are many people with whom I wish to share this, and found myself reading way too late into the night as I needed to know what happened next. I cared deeply about the characters, and I was engaged by the This was available on Kindle First, and sounded like a fresh take on WW II for me. Both the subject of the novel, a young man who actually lived through these extraordinary times and experiences, and the author had compelling stories, and it caught my interest. I bought it in book form as there are many people with whom I wish to share this, and found myself reading way too late into the night as I needed to know what happened next. I cared deeply about the characters, and I was engaged by the dangerous and heartbreaking incidents that I read with such attention. Very highly recommended, it is a story everyone should read. People can choose to do the right thing, the scary thing, even in the worst of times.

Update December 2018: Have given this book as a present to friends, especially fellow veterans, and they love it and pass it on to their friends. Just talked to my brother to whom I gave it as a birthday present and he really enjoyed it. ...more

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