REVIEW: Luigi’s Freedom Ride by Alan Murray (Review by Terry Purcell)

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Luigi’s Freedom Ride is a first novel by Alan Murray, an established writer of non-fiction which can be categorised as a “feel good” read with strong Australian, Italian and cycling themes.

It tells the story of Luigi, growing up in Mussolini’s pre-war Italy in a small Tuscan village, who, while still a young teenager, luckily acquires a damaged bicycle left with him by a British tourist.  With the help of his uncle he repairs the bike which allows him to glimpse the world outside his village.

From that point onwards Luigi’s bicycle is an important sub-text reinforced by amusing chapter headings about cycling.  The bicycle is also basis of Luigi’s long held dream of escaping village life and riding his bicycle to the near mythical land of Australia which he read about at school.

Eventually the war comes to Italy and the 18 year old Luigi is called up by the army and after a few months training he and several friends are assigned to a bicycle unit and end up in Ancona on the Adriatic coast.

By then, however, the hated Germans are in control and the war finally reaches Italy and their base becomes a target for allied air raids.

On an assignment to transport supplies to inland units Luigi and his friends are cut off and find themselves joining the partisans which exposes Luigi and his friends to the reality of war and the terrible losses caused by it.

Murray’s well written and readable novel is an intriguing story which tells us how Luigi sees the world on his way to Australia, a place he finds as magical as he had dreamed it would be as a teenager and finds freedom and love.

At a time when today’s refugees are made unwelcome, Luigi’s story is a timely reminder of the welcome most post war refugees received by the largely Anglo Celtic population, and the ease with which most quickly fitted in and became appreciated contributors to, as well as beneficiaries of, the post war growth of Australia.

It is very satisfying read and I strongly recommend it, not the least because we need to be reminded that probably the great majority of us descend from convicts or refugees.

Terry Purcell is a solicitor and was the founding director of the Law Foundation of NSW. He is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog.

Grab a copy of Alan Murray’s Luigi’s Freedom Ride here

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Go in the draw to win this vintage bike when you pre-order Luigi’s Freedom Ride!

 

REVIEW: From a Distance by Raffaella Barker (Review by Terry Purcell)

Raffaella Barker is an established English writer whose latest novel From a Distance tells an engaging, heart-warming story commencing with war weary and battle scarred young soldier Michael finally returning to England from the Far East in the spring of 1946.

Instead of heading north to see his parents and fiancée, he heads south to Cornwall with no set plan other than to find a way disconnect from his six long years of war.
In Cornwall he is made welcome by strangers and quickly fits into an artists’ colony and finds new friends and work which helps to heal the emotional and mental scars inflicted by the war.

Barker’s post war Cornwall is a warm welcoming place full of interesting artistic people where the rigours of rationing and shortages seemingly have little impact on this remote and fertile part of England, all of which contributes to Michael’s recovery and his ultimate acceptance of the need to return to his parents and fiancée.

The author also introduces us to Luisa, her family of teenage children and teacher husband, in a small seaside town in Norfolk in May 2012.  Into her life, and that of her extended family, comes Kit, a wealthy bachelor who has just inherited a local redundant lighthouse.  Raffaella Barker

I like this book and particularly admire the clever yet believable way Barker seamlessly brings the several strands of the story together with a surprising yet heart-warming conclusion.

When preparing this review I happily re-read the book, something rare for me, yet doing so reminded me of this author’s ability to create warm and believable characters – it is a book for those who like engaging stories.  I look forward to reading some of the author’s earlier books which have just been re-issued.

Terry Purcell is a solicitor and was the founding director of the Law Foundation of NSW. He is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog.

Grab a copy of Raffaella Barker’s From a Distance here

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