29/10/2011

"On the way to Toiano"

 

"On the way to Toiano" is a historical novel, and a sentimental novel with a little criminal intrigue.

Xavier Feraud, famous writer and journalist, is traveling to Tuscany.

Intrigued by an inscription on the road, he follows a small dirt road that leads him straight to Toiano, a tiny abandoned village, with just two rows of houses all in ruin.

It’s a ghost town!

Xavier is very disappointed but decides to stay there for a short time. He wonders what else there is to see other than the beautiful view of the vineyards and the olive groves.

Two kilometers away, he crosses through a small wood, dark and sinister.

Halfway, along a funerary stele catches his attention.

There is an inscription which recalls the assassination of Chiara in 1947. She was a young and beautiful peasant girl aged only twenty-two years.

A photograph, the portrait of the young woman, upsets him.

Xavier makes the acquaintance of Paolo, an old sour, cantankerous man who knew Chiara very well. Not only because he was her childhood friend, but also because he had never ceased to love her.

 Xavier proposes to drive Paolo home.

The old man offers his hospitality to the writer so he can enlighten him with the true and terrible story of Chiara Contini.

Xavier will also meet Manuela, a beautiful, young doctoress in search of a painful truth. Who is she really? What are her links with the "case Contini»? And why so much hatred against Paolo?

Chiara and her History ...

1935.

Chiara is a ten years old girl. She lives in Toiano with her parents, Maria and Alfonso. In a small village of with about twenty inhabitants. The village sits proudly on a Tuscan hill.

Italy is then directed by the iron hand of Benito Mussolini, called "The Duce".

Chiara and Paolo are friends despite their families having different political views.

The fascism of Mussolini reigns in Italy.

Xavier discovers the strong personality of the young girl who has grown up in a difficult climate where the indoctrination of Italian youths is practiced like a true religion.

She demonstrates a great maturity of character and courage while trying to convince her friend Paolo that the ideas of Duce and its henchmen are not good.

1939. The war breaks. The Jews, the Communists, the antifascists are captured and persecuted.

The Great fascistic Council confirms the alliance of the Axis countries. Italy is still, at this moment, not-belligerent.

For the Tuscans, the summer of 1939  reaches slowly to its end, full of softness and serenity…

Chiara spends, unknowingly, the last Christmas with her father, whom she loves and admires.

On June 10th 1940, Italy declares its part in the war on France and Great Britain.

Jealous of Hitler, Mussolini also wants “his share of the cake” !

On June 12th, the men of Toiano are mobilized and leave their families. Among them, Alfonso – Chiara’s father – and Paolo…

For Chiara, it is a heartbreaking to see them leaving. She thinks of her father who will have to fight on the side of the Germans, going against his beliefs.

In July 1943 comes the rupture of the Axis. Mussolini, put in a minority, is deposed by the king and arrested.

In September 1943 it's the unconditional surrender of Italy and the landing of the Allied forces on the Italian peninsula. The soldiers are fighting with great difficulty in front of the terrifying German's defense lines ... They are not progressing fast.

The Germans feel betrayed by Italy. They occupy their country and take revenge against the  people.

Toiano is no exception to the rule.

January 1944 it's the "Operation Shingle". The Allies land at Anzio, south of Rome.

Tuscany is still far from Naples and Anzio...

Although freedom is slowly approaching. It is too slow.

The Partisans are also having their own war.

Chiara will then have to make a choice, stick to her convictions and those of her parents...

Thierry Delvaux

Editions Chloé des Lys

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