The Women Who Liberated Italy from Fascism
From the Sunday Times-bestselling author of Village of Secrets, comes the extraordinary story of four courageous women who helped form the Italian Resistance during WW2
'Moorehead paints a wonderfully vivid and moving portrait of the women of the Italian Resistance…an excellent book… She depicts a tragic fate that is timeless, of dreams forged in adversity, shattered by collisions with practical politics' MAX HASTINGS, SUNDAY TIMES
The extraordinary story of the courageous women who spearheaded the Italian Resistance during the Second World War
In the late summer of 1943, when Italy changed sides in the War and the Germans – now their enemies – occupied the north of the country, an Italian Resistance was born. Ada, Frida, Silvia and Bianca were four young Piedmontese women who joined the Resistance, living clandestinely in the mountains surrounding Turin. They were not alone. Between 1943 and 1945, as the Allies battled their way north, thousands of men and women throughout occupied Italy rose up and fought to liberate their country from the German invaders and their Fascist collaborators.
The bloody civil war that ensued across the country pitted neighbour against neighbour, and brought out the best and worst in Italian society. The courage shown by the partisans was exemplary, and eventually bound them together as a coherent fighting force. The women’s contribution was invaluable – they fought, carried messages and weapons, provided safe houses, laid mines and took prisoners. Ada’s house deep in the mountains became a meeting place and refuge for many of them.
The death rattle of Mussolini’s two decades of Fascist rule – with its corruption, greed and anti-Semitism was unrelentingly violent, but for the partisan women it was also a time of camaraderie and equality, pride and optimism. They had proved, to themselves and to the world, what resolve, tenacity and, above all, exceptional courage could achieve.
“Moorehead paints a wonderfully vivid and moving portrait of the women of the Italian Resistance…an excellent book… She depicts a tragic fate that is timeless, of dreams forged in adversity, shattered by collisions with practical politics”
Max Hastings, Sunday Times
“Brilliantly and subtly told… The narrative is told with such verve that I frequently had goosebumps: the men and women known from much drier history books come alive… a riveting read”
Tobias Jones, Guardian
“A sensitive and perceptive book founded on an appreciation of the role women play in any society, at any times. It is sober and serious, but still an easy read… Moorehead is not afraid to show how these women used their femininity to become more effective partisans”
Gerard DeGroot, The Times
“A brilliant overview of the war in Italy from the perspective of the female partisans”
Clare Mulley, Spectator, *Books of 2019*
“Moorehead’s quartet of heroines all… left the diaries, the letters, the documents and the family memories that have allowed her to tell their eye-opening and spirit-lifting stories so powerfully”
Boyd Tonkin, The Arts Desk
“This is a highly satisfying conclusion to the author's series. Excellent, well-presented evidence of the incalculable strengths and abilities of women to create and run a country”
Starred Review, Kirkus
“Moorehead skilfully weaves…threads of individual stories together to create a web of interconnected lives… broad narrative is dotted with flashes of detail; the colour of a piece of clothing, the wording of a letter… Moorehead captures a sense of hope and vitality among the women of the Resistance, fighting with courage and determination for a future they believed in”
Elsa Maishman, Scotland on Sunday