In The Shadow of The Apennines
Independently Published (2022)
Reviewed by Lily Andrews for Reader Views (12/2022)
“In The Shadow of The Apennines” is an emotional but hopeful women’s fictional story by Kimberly Sullivan that follows Samantha Burke, a recently divorced American woman whose husband of 20 years had left her for a younger woman and who had also lost her job in a university. In a bid to seek solace and heal from her painful and humiliating past, she purchases an old cottage home in the jagged Apennine Mountains in North Italy with part of her divorce settlement money.
Samantha’s troubled effort to connect with her neighbors bears little fruit. Her eagerness to begin writing sees her write a blog that mistakenly gets her shunned by the villagers, and she resolves to live a life of solitude. One day, she stumbles upon a diary written by Elena, an Italian shepherdess who lived in the same cottage a hundred years ago, recounting her effort to overcome love and loss as a ruinous earthquake hit the same town in 1915, during the First World War. This discovery proves to bring much-needed healing and self-reflection for Samantha and possibly a fresh trajectory to follow in her life.
Sullivan has done a remarkable job by bringing a duality between two different women who lived at different periods. Their emotional journeys become progressively aligned, interspersing the modern and historical. She presents a protagonist that is easy to understand, root for, and cheer on by allowing a keen panorama of her emotions and anxiety. The book’s pitch-perfect prose also serves the purpose of elevating it by allowing Samantha to tell her story to the reader in ordinary language.
The text’s rich and vivid descriptions of Italian culture, cuisine, and traditions and sizzling these with some Italian vocabulary across the pages, not only make the story appear real but also serve to unearth escapist entertainment in equal measure. At turns, poignant and at other times fairly pleasant, “In The Shadow of The Apennines” is a story that refreshingly focuses on courage and endurance in times of hardship and misfortune.
Geared towards encouraging its readers to find the courage to move on and embrace new tidings, this book has a few predictable twists with a slow pace at the beginning, but gathers momentum as it progresses. Nevertheless, “In The Shadow of The Apennines” by Kimberly Sullivan is an ode with a luxurious heft and scope and a suitable candidate to pore over with a warm cup of tea in the afternoon.