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Top Customer Reviews
Michael & Ian Lahey’s novel, “The 45th Nail”, opens as a light-hearted romp, with comedy at a highpoint, as Bob is beset by thieves and con-artists from the very moment he arrives in Italy. Robbed of all his money and possessions, he is left quite destitute from the moment he plants his feet on Italian soil. Despite his naivety, the loss of everything but his passport, and his inability to speak the language very well, it is only through the kindness of strangers that our protagonist manages to get by, making for some highly humorous situations and observations on life in general.
Weeks later, a chance meeting leads to contact with his uncle, and this is where Lahey’s novel really begins as he takes Bob on a long journey through the Italian countryside and the old soldier’s tortured past. The whole flavor of Lahey’s saga shifts to a more introspective and serious tone as—together—the two men travel down roads rarely revisited and face memories seldom wanting to be claimed. It is this exploration of Italy’s war-ravaged past that leads Bob to a better understanding of the tenuousness and tenacity of life while Jim ultimately comes to terms with his demons and meets his destiny.
One doesn’t really fall in love with the characters in Lahey’s novel, for each is flawed in a way that makes them somewhat unappealing. But spending time with them, examining their motives and finding out what makes them tick, one can see how they arrived at a point in their lives where their decisions were either based on insight or instinct. Lahey keenly demonstrates that insight and instinct are oftentimes abandoned when morals and ethics are pushed aside and replaced by a strong urge to survive. But grace and mercy can always be found in the common events of everyday life where troubled souls like Jim’s can seek solace, forgiveness, and salvation.
“The 45th Nail” appeals to several genres—It is an almanac rife with facts about battles won and lost, towns destroyed and reemerged, populations decimated and reborn, and enough trivia and statistics to satisfy even the most avid fact-finder. It is a travel guide on the Italy of the past and the present, replete with details on climate, terrain, lodgings, and local events. It is a history lesson listing each of the many ancient and modern armies and generals that swept over the mountains and plains, and looted banks and robbed mansions of their treasures. And it is a personal journal, one man’s biographical account—fictional perhaps, but clearly possible … and quite likely probable—of a lifetime spent in self-exile and penance for waging war against a people he hardly knew for the sake of a people he never really came home to. Jim Savorski is a lost soul, devoid of any true joy, and hoping to somehow make amends for all the sins he has committed. Does he find salvation in the end? That is a question Bob Svenson is still trying to answer in “The 45th Nail.
#IARTG #IAN #ASMSG #HistFic #Mystery #Military #War #WWII #Italy #Etruscans #RomanEmpire #Amazon #Kindle #Goodreads #Ebooks #BookBoost #BookPromo
Historical Fiction, Mystery, War, World War II, Italy, Etruscans, Roman Empire, Amazon, Kindle, Goodreads, Ebooks,
Robert Svenson leads an unremarkable American life, occasionally tweaked by random cards and Etruscan coins from an Uncle reported Missing-in-Action after WWII ended. He’s incited to travel to Italy by a Christmas card from his uncle with a vague premise of discovering if his uncle is alive and, if he is, why he didn’t return home.
Except he tells his wife he’s headed to France… Hmmn. When financial disasters marred his initial days in Italy, my laughter was wry, despite the author’s comedic intent.
I also didn’t understand the subterfuge of quirky Uncle Jim via these encounters and friendly spies…until it occurred to me that Uncle Jim was a crusty and guarded old codger who reminded me of 'A Man Called Ove', an international bestseller for good reason. Perhaps Jim didn’t lie to his boring, overly-careful bland wife after all: subterfuge was a family trait.
Uncle Jim invites Bob on a leisurely excursion through Italy, providing travelogue and history that delighted this reader, and is the core of the book. What I regarded as the unnecessarily secretive ways of Uncle Jim fell away as he began to trust his wily nephew, even addressing him as ‘nephew’ to show the trust gained.
The ending was surprising but satisfying. Jim got what he sought and so did Bob. I will forever wonder what happened between Bob and his wife as they continued married life upon his return to the US. Perhaps it helped that Bob was enriched—in more ways than one—by his trip. Next book?
The basics: Bob, a middle-aged French teacher from middle America, receives a strange communication from his long-lost Uncle Jim who he believed to have gone MIA during World War II. The contents of this communication are sufficient to send Bob off to Italy to find him.
From the blurb I was expecting an adventure type thriller, but the beginning is more like dark comedy, as Bob tells wife Beth untruths about where he is going (the portrayal of Beth was hilarious, I'd like to have read more about her), has his luggage and wallet stolen by a con artist/pickpocket gang as soon as he arrives in Italy, then takes a series of part-time jobs in order to clothe, feed and house himself before he can even think of travelling to Anzio to seek out the mysterious Uncle Jim. His experience 'winging it' as a sommelier is very funny indeed, and some of the characterisation of the people he meets is first class (I particularly liked Edigio, the hotelier who helps him along the way).
As for the plot itself, I wasn't really convinced by it at first; it seemed to be more of a story about this funny guy who has all sorts of accidental adventures in Italy. Then, at about twenty per cent, a well plotted twist made it all clear, and the tone changed.
The book shows the legacy left by the war, a love of Italy, the language, archaeology and social culture; I didn't know what some of the dialogue meant and had to do a certain amount of 'winging it' myself, but this wasn't a problem. The last fifteen per cent of the book provides the big 'reveal', with the terrible truth about Uncle Jim and the 45th nail - I was engrossed, and found it sad and moving. The end is excellent.
I thought the story rambled a fair bit and gave more detail in many places where a more succinct account/stream of conversation would have had better effect, but the writing itself is great. If it was trimmed down a bit it would be worthy of at least another half star, as far as I'm concerned.
An unusual book, and a good one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Authors Michael and Ian Lahey's contemporary fiction novel, The 45th Nail, an intensively thought-provoking and emotion filled novel, takes...Read more
What I liked about this book was its depth and variety.Read more