Seek­ing Alice

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - CHRIS­TINE CANFIELD

Camilla Trinchieri Ex­cel­sior Edi­tions Soft­cover $19.95 (230pp) 978-1-4384-6128-1

This novel blends a deeply emo­tional story with an en­vi­ron­ment that is cap­ti­vat­ing in its dan­ger and com­plex­ity.

In Camilla Trinchieri’s Seek­ing Alice, World War II is a force that makes it dif­fi­cult for fam­i­lies to stay to­gether. With a care­ful hand, Trinchieri

paints a re­al­is­tic pic­ture of how love, be­trayal, loss, and guilt shape one fam­ily in a pe­riod when the pa­ram­e­ters of daily life shifted con­stantly.

Alice and Marco are liv­ing in Prague with their three chil­dren when WWII breaks out. As an Ital­ian diplo­mat, Marco must toe the Fas­cist Party line in or­der to pro­tect his fam­ily, but his Amer­i­can wife, Alice, strug­gles to hide her dis­gust for the Nazi lead­ers who come to din­ner. As the war con­tin­ues, the fam­ily moves from Prague to Rome, with mem­bers separat­ing off one by one, un­til Alice makes a des­per­ate de­ci­sion to cross the bor­der into Switzer­land with her two daugh­ters. Fif­teen years af­ter the war, on the verge of be­com­ing a mother her­self, Susie feels com­pelled to find out what re­ally hap­pened to her mother that piv­otal night.

Told through the al­ter­nat­ing view­points of Alice in 1941 and her daugh­ter, Susie, in 1956, the novel fo­cuses on the com­pli­cated roles of women, mag­ni­fy­ing those roles with the caus­tic ef­fects of war. “Wartime is woman’s time,” says Alice’s friend, Er­silia. In many ways she is right. Women must largely go it alone, find­ing free­doms they hadn’t had be­fore and deal­ing with added bur­dens, too. Trinchieri deftly shows that bal­anc­ing roles is dif­fi­cult, as events af­fect Alice as a wife and con­flict with her needs as an in­di­vid­ual, re­sult­ing in un­in­tended con­se­quences for her chil­dren. Such com­pli­ca­tions are re­lated evenly with the story show­cas­ing the good, the bad, and the heart­break­ing with­out pass­ing nar­ra­tive judg­ment. The char­ac­ters do enough judg­ing them­selves.

This novel blends a deeply emo­tional story with an en­vi­ron­ment that is cap­ti­vat­ing in its dan­ger and com­plex­ity. The pace builds slowly over time, un­til Alice and her daugh­ters’ pulse-quick­en­ing at­tempt to es­cape over the bor­der into Switzer­land. Seek­ing Alice is a fully en­gag­ing story that doesn’t let go un­til the fi­nal page.

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