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Our Darkest Night

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To survive the Holocaust, a young Jewish woman must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife in this unforgettable novel from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—a story of terror, hope, love, and sacrifice, inspired by true events, that vividly evokes the most perilous days of World War II. It is the autumn of 1943, and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian To survive the Holocaust, a young Jewish woman must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife in this unforgettable novel from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—a story of terror, hope, love, and sacrifice, inspired by true events, that vividly evokes the most perilous days of World War II. It is the autumn of 1943, and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian Jews like the Mazin family. With Nazi Germany now occupying most of her beloved homeland, and the threat of imprisonment and deportation growing ever more certain, Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive—to leave Venice and her beloved parents and hide in the countryside with a man she has only just met. Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to leave the seminary to run his family’s farm. A moral and just man, he could not stand by when the fascists and Nazis began taking innocent lives. Rather than risk a perilous escape across the mountains, Nina will pose as his new bride. And to keep her safe and protect secrets of his own, Nico and Nina must convince prying eyes they are happily married and in love. But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbors are wary of this soft and educated woman they do not know. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico. The more he learns of Nina, the more his suspicions grow—and with them his determination to exact revenge. As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their feelings deepen, transforming their relationship into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart . . .


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To survive the Holocaust, a young Jewish woman must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife in this unforgettable novel from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—a story of terror, hope, love, and sacrifice, inspired by true events, that vividly evokes the most perilous days of World War II. It is the autumn of 1943, and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian To survive the Holocaust, a young Jewish woman must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife in this unforgettable novel from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—a story of terror, hope, love, and sacrifice, inspired by true events, that vividly evokes the most perilous days of World War II. It is the autumn of 1943, and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian Jews like the Mazin family. With Nazi Germany now occupying most of her beloved homeland, and the threat of imprisonment and deportation growing ever more certain, Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive—to leave Venice and her beloved parents and hide in the countryside with a man she has only just met. Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to leave the seminary to run his family’s farm. A moral and just man, he could not stand by when the fascists and Nazis began taking innocent lives. Rather than risk a perilous escape across the mountains, Nina will pose as his new bride. And to keep her safe and protect secrets of his own, Nico and Nina must convince prying eyes they are happily married and in love. But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbors are wary of this soft and educated woman they do not know. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico. The more he learns of Nina, the more his suspicions grow—and with them his determination to exact revenge. As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their feelings deepen, transforming their relationship into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart . . .

30 review for Our Darkest Night

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    It is no secret Our Darkest Night is a book I’ve been excited to read since I read the very first teaser. Jennifer Robson’s, The Gown, was one of my favorite books of 2018, and I’m a big fan. Set in Italy, Our Darkest Night is the story of Antonia (Nina) Mazin, an Italian Jew who must post as a Christian farmer’s wife by marrying Nico Gerardi, who has been studying to be a priest before his circumstances change. Nina’s only hope of survival is for everyone to be convinced she is who she says she It is no secret Our Darkest Night is a book I’ve been excited to read since I read the very first teaser. Jennifer Robson’s, The Gown, was one of my favorite books of 2018, and I’m a big fan. Set in Italy, Our Darkest Night is the story of Antonia (Nina) Mazin, an Italian Jew who must post as a Christian farmer’s wife by marrying Nico Gerardi, who has been studying to be a priest before his circumstances change. Nina’s only hope of survival is for everyone to be convinced she is who she says she is and happily married. Eventually their feelings for each other begin to grow, just as the terror becomes even closer to their life together. Oh my gosh, I love Nico, and I love Nina, and I love this story. These are such warmhearted, loving characters. What would you do had you been in Nico’s shoes? Would you risk your own life to save another? This story captures this heartbreaking and dark time in history with authentic-feeling characters and an inspiring story. The author’s note is not to be missed because the story is inspired by her own family. Highly recommended for hist fic fans, especially of this time period. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Venice 1943, Dr Gabriele Mazin is extremely concerned for his daughters Antonina’s safety and he makes plans for her to leave Venice. He’s friends with father Bernardi a priest and he knows a young man living in his remote parish in Mezzo Ciels who will help Nina and he trusts him. Nico Gerardi had been studying to be a priest and he left the seminary to help on his family’s busy farm. He’s a very honest and caring man who’s willing to pretend he’s married to Antonina to keep her safe, she leave Venice 1943, Dr Gabriele Mazin is extremely concerned for his daughters Antonina’s safety and he makes plans for her to leave Venice. He’s friends with father Bernardi a priest and he knows a young man living in his remote parish in Mezzo Ciels who will help Nina and he trusts him. Nico Gerardi had been studying to be a priest and he left the seminary to help on his family’s busy farm. He’s a very honest and caring man who’s willing to pretend he’s married to Antonina to keep her safe, she leaves Venice behind and moves to the country with her new husband. When Nina leaves her father and mother behind in Venice it's one of the hardest things she has ever had to do. The newlyweds arrive at the farm, Nico’s twin sister Rosa isn’t happy that he’s left seminary, his wife hasn’t got a clue about helping on the farm and housework. Nina is miserable, she misses her parents, her sister in-law thinks she’s useless and she has to pretend to be Catholic and attend church. Things are worse when Karl Zwerger arrives he’s a nasty Nazi official he doesn’t like Nico and he’s determined to make his life as miserable as possible. When he finds out about his new bride, he questions Nina about her past, the couples courtship and of course how she met her husband? Nina and Nico get to know each other; they develop feelings for each other and Nina becomes close to the whole Gerardi family. Nina’s very concerned about the possibility of Italian Jews being sent to camps, when this begins and Nina is really worried about her parents. Our Darkest Night is a story about life in Italy during WW II, how hard it was for Jewish people and they were treated terribly by the Nazi’s. Thousands died from being persecuted during the Holocaust and also from disease, starvation and being sent to work in Germany. Inspired by true events it’s a story about sacrifice, family, loss, despair, friendship, love, hope and Jennifer Robson’s books never disappoint. I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review; I highly recommend reading Our Darkest Night and five stars from me. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pam Jenoff

    This remarkable book, out for just over a week now, tells of Nico and Nina, who must pose as a married couple in World War II Italy in order for her to hide from the Nazis and soon that their feelings are not a charade. Do not miss it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    Our Darkest Night begins in Venice, Italy, 1942. As Jews, Antonina (Nina) Mazin and her parents realize that they are no longer safe as more and more of their freedoms are being taken away. Antonina's beloved father was no longer allowed to practice medicine and it was clear that it was only a matter of time before all Jews would be expelled from Italy. Her father and his friend Father Bernardi advise Antonina that they have arranged for her to move to the countryside pretending to be the new wi Our Darkest Night begins in Venice, Italy, 1942. As Jews, Antonina (Nina) Mazin and her parents realize that they are no longer safe as more and more of their freedoms are being taken away. Antonina's beloved father was no longer allowed to practice medicine and it was clear that it was only a matter of time before all Jews would be expelled from Italy. Her father and his friend Father Bernardi advise Antonina that they have arranged for her to move to the countryside pretending to be the new wife of Nico Gerardi, a young Catholic farmer. She agrees while knowing that she might never see her parents again. She realizes that this plan offers her a good chance of survival. As Nina (her name in hiding) settles into life on the farm with Nico’s large family, she lives in constant fear of having her secret uncovered. This danger is heightened by ongoing inspections by SS officials. This extremely moving book shows both the generosity and kindness of people who were willing to risk their own lives to save others as well as the extreme cruelty of those who lost all compassion and feeling committing the most horrendous atrocities. Our Darkest Night has a lot of heart but it doesn’t sugarcoat what occurred either. You’ll become fully invested in Nina and Nico’s lives and struggles. It is now over 75 years since the end of WWII and the horrors of the Holocaust. There are very few survivors still alive to tell their stories. We are fortunate that there are talented authors like Jennifer Robson who choose to do extensive research and write about this period in history. Hopefully there will continue to be large numbers of readers who will want to read the many different stories and perspectives, most inspired by real people, to insure that what occurred will always be remembered. I’m very glad I read Our Darkest Night. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Antonina's father had been planning how to protect her for a while since the Germans had invaded Italy and were starting to take Jewish people to camps. His plan was to have Antonina pretend she was married to Nico. Antonina didn't like the idea of leaving with a stranger and leaving her father and mother, but Nico was very nice and had a wonderful family who welcomed her as his wife. Well everyone but his sister, Rosa, but Rosa came to love Nina. Rosa was angry because Nico was to be a priest and Antonina's father had been planning how to protect her for a while since the Germans had invaded Italy and were starting to take Jewish people to camps. His plan was to have Antonina pretend she was married to Nico. Antonina didn't like the idea of leaving with a stranger and leaving her father and mother, but Nico was very nice and had a wonderful family who welcomed her as his wife. Well everyone but his sister, Rosa, but Rosa came to love Nina. Rosa was angry because Nico was to be a priest and this girl took him from the priesthood. They wished they could tell everyone they really weren't married, but it was too risky. Someone may tell on them. I became immersed in the family’s hardworking life and the wonder and joy of the simple life they led and their care for each other. Of course they had to be concerned about the Nazi officers who stopped by and to worry that someone would find out Nina actually was Jewish. You will fall in love with Nina and Nico and feel Nina's pain as she tries to fit in and learn how to be a Catholic. You will actually become fond of each family member, feel their pain as well as their happiness, and want to be part of their loving family. As in all WWII books along with the beauty and the strength of the people, there is death and cruelty. The beauty of family and caring citizens will pull you into this marvelously written, well-researched book and help ease the horror of what was going on. Do not miss this book. 5/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    Epic! A young Jewish Italian woman has a hero -- her father. When the Nazi threat forces her to hide in the country, she meets the new hero of her story. Nina and Nico's story is heartbreaking and hopeful. The two of them are borne up by their faith in their God and in each other. There were many times when this book drove me to tears for the plight of people like them. For the suffering and humiliation that was heaped upon them. Despite the inhumane treatment all around, Nico and men like him h Epic! A young Jewish Italian woman has a hero -- her father. When the Nazi threat forces her to hide in the country, she meets the new hero of her story. Nina and Nico's story is heartbreaking and hopeful. The two of them are borne up by their faith in their God and in each other. There were many times when this book drove me to tears for the plight of people like them. For the suffering and humiliation that was heaped upon them. Despite the inhumane treatment all around, Nico and men like him honored their fellow human beings while at the same time recognizing the evil that had to be eradicated. This story is personal to Jennifer Robson and you can see her high regard for her characters. Beautifully done and highly recommended. Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karen Macedo

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you William Morrow publishers. Jennifer Robson is one of my favorite authors. I have read all her books and Our Darkest Night did not disappoint. It's a novel of Italy during WW2. I could not put it down. Highy recommend if you like historical fiction. Jennifer is truly a gifted writer. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you William Morrow publishers. Jennifer Robson is one of my favorite authors. I have read all her books and Our Darkest Night did not disappoint. It's a novel of Italy during WW2. I could not put it down. Highy recommend if you like historical fiction. Jennifer is truly a gifted writer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    Ugh. This was disappointing. I wanted to like this book, the premise was a bit different from the usual WWII historical fiction, being set in Italy, but it just got worse and worse for me as it dragged on. The first half was interesting, however it quickly turned to an overly melodramatic and horribly predictable story, with the stereotypical characterizations of WWII “hero/heroine” and “horrid Nazis.” The heroine is the strong one trying to save the weaker ones, and horrid things happen to them Ugh. This was disappointing. I wanted to like this book, the premise was a bit different from the usual WWII historical fiction, being set in Italy, but it just got worse and worse for me as it dragged on. The first half was interesting, however it quickly turned to an overly melodramatic and horribly predictable story, with the stereotypical characterizations of WWII “hero/heroine” and “horrid Nazis.” The heroine is the strong one trying to save the weaker ones, and horrid things happen to them, but she still has her soul, which she won’t let them take. Yada. Yada. Yada. Insert eye-roll. Even the writing was formulaic, with the same descriptions and narratives found in typical novels of this type. There was no substance, it just felt like hundreds of other novels of this genre pieced together for the hype of a WWII novel, but there was no passion in the story; nothing in it felt real or believable. In the beginning I would have given this 4 stars. It moved to 3 halfway through. Given enough eye rolls it went down to 2, if not for the first half, it probably would have gone down to 1 unfortunately. It was a great premise, but sadly went to contrived, theatrical blather, that was piled on way too thick instead of an original story with characters I might have actually cared about.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    1943 / WWII / Italy. This is Nico and Nina’s love story set during a time of terror and turmoil in the world. Nina is Jewish, her mother is in a hospice. Her father is a doctor who has been forbidden to work by the Nazis. His best friend is a Catholic priest, Father Bernardi (based on real life Father Oddo Stocco). As it becomes more dangerous for Jews in Venice Nina’s father and Father Bernardi devise a plan to get Nina to safety. Well known to Father Bernardi Nico was studying to be a priest but 1943 / WWII / Italy. This is Nico and Nina’s love story set during a time of terror and turmoil in the world. Nina is Jewish, her mother is in a hospice. Her father is a doctor who has been forbidden to work by the Nazis. His best friend is a Catholic priest, Father Bernardi (based on real life Father Oddo Stocco). As it becomes more dangerous for Jews in Venice Nina’s father and Father Bernardi devise a plan to get Nina to safety. Well known to Father Bernardi Nico was studying to be a priest but has left the seminary in order to help his family on their farm. Father Bernardi, Nico and Nina’s father have arranged for Nina and Nico to pretend to be married so he can take her to his family farm far away from the city. While Nina is not happy with this absurd plan, not wanting to leave her parents, she goes along finding herself in a tiny farming village far from city life, the only life she has ever known. She has to adapt, she has to learn the ways of the farm and get used to Nico’s large family all while keeping the secret that she is Jewish and they really are not married. In the close confines of family life on the farm and Nina and Nico pretending to be wed, sharing a room and a bed, it is not a stretch that love will find a way. And it does. At one point Nina discovers that Nico and his family are engaged in helping Jews trying to flee across the border with the help of Father Bernardi. And eventually the Nazis will find their way to this remote village. What then? This is a love story about sacrifice, struggle and survival during WWII.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laurie • The Baking Bookworm

    4.5 STARS - I have been a fan of Canadian author Jennifer Robson since I read and adored her book The Gown two years ago. When I heard she had a new book coming out set in Italy during WWII, preordering this book was a no brainer for me. I simply had to have it in my greedy little Bookworm hands. Inspired by true events, Our Darkest Night is a Historical Fiction story centred around a young Jewish woman and the lengths she, her loved ones and even perfect strangers went to in order to keep her sa 4.5 STARS - I have been a fan of Canadian author Jennifer Robson since I read and adored her book The Gown two years ago. When I heard she had a new book coming out set in Italy during WWII, preordering this book was a no brainer for me. I simply had to have it in my greedy little Bookworm hands. Inspired by true events, Our Darkest Night is a Historical Fiction story centred around a young Jewish woman and the lengths she, her loved ones and even perfect strangers went to in order to keep her safe from the Nazi regime. The first half of the book is slower paced as we get to know Nina, Nico and his family and witness what life was like for Italians living in more provincial settings during the war. The second half begins with a gut-wrenching scene that quite literally took my breath away. This scene pivots the book into a darker perspective of the war and Robson doesn't shy away from detailing the atrocities inflicted against Jews and those who attempted to aid them. Our Darkest Night is a good blend of history, family, and romance. I appreciate how Robson gives her readers a different perspective of the war, setting her story in a rural part of Italy during the occupation to show what life was like for small communities who may not have been on the war front, but who were not exempt from Nazi influence and abuse. I strongly suggest readers read the author's notes at the end of the book where she talks about her inspiration and her detailed research for this novel and how, by using her husband's Italian roots, she was able to give an authenticity to her rural Italian setting. There is a sweet romance within these pages, but the relationships that stood out the most for me were the close bonds of Nico's family. I sympathized with Nina and Nico and their unique situation, but I wouldn't call this a character-driven read. I would have loved to get inside their relationship and each of their heads a bit more - particularly Nico's feelings, details about his covert work as well as the POVs of a few of Nico's family members. This is a well-researched and moving story. Feelings of hopelessness, fear, perseverance, and love are conveyed well to the reader and are balanced with historical detail. I read this book in one day and I went through the emotional gamut. Parts of this book made me sad, parts made me smile and parts made me so unbelievably angry. In the end, this is a story about family, sacrifice, endurance, and hope. In a time when evil, fear and desperation were rampant, Robson shows how the generosity and small kindnesses of strangers can be found in even the darkest of times.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danyelle Drexler ( danythebookworm_ )

    Our Darkest Night to be both gripping and poignant, sharing the resiliency of the human spirit, the power of good against evil, a most epic of love stories and a reminder that love concurs all.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    While I felt that it had a bit of a slow start, halfway through I couldn't put it down. I have rarely read about Italy's Jews, and found the homecoming story a bit different from others I've read . Jennifer Robson does such a good job of including things that make the reader feel as though they are there in the moment While I felt that it had a bit of a slow start, halfway through I couldn't put it down. I have rarely read about Italy's Jews, and found the homecoming story a bit different from others I've read . Jennifer Robson does such a good job of including things that make the reader feel as though they are there in the moment

  13. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve Graham

    A gripping tale of devastation, love, and hope set during the darkest days of the Second World War, "Our Darkest Night" takes readers on a shocking journey through war torn Italy all the way to the chilling brutalities happening in Poland. The story is based on the lives of Ms Robson's husband's ancestors, and the author's passion for the story and love of the people come alive in her beautifully crafted characters, all of whom must become so much stronger than they ever believed they could be. A gripping tale of devastation, love, and hope set during the darkest days of the Second World War, "Our Darkest Night" takes readers on a shocking journey through war torn Italy all the way to the chilling brutalities happening in Poland. The story is based on the lives of Ms Robson's husband's ancestors, and the author's passion for the story and love of the people come alive in her beautifully crafted characters, all of whom must become so much stronger than they ever believed they could be. Jennifer Robson's books are always a delight, giving readers so much in both story and history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)

    📚 Hello Book Friends! I have read and seen many historical novels set in Italy during WWII. I appreciate the insights they offer on the war in these parts of the world. OUR DARKEST NIGHT by Jennifer Robson gives us a glimpse of what happened to Italian Jewish families in Venice in those difficult times. It also reveals the kindness of a Christian man and how he saves the life of one young Jewish woman. You will embark on Antonina’s journey to safety, you will witness her loss, her gain, her surv 📚 Hello Book Friends! I have read and seen many historical novels set in Italy during WWII. I appreciate the insights they offer on the war in these parts of the world. OUR DARKEST NIGHT by Jennifer Robson gives us a glimpse of what happened to Italian Jewish families in Venice in those difficult times. It also reveals the kindness of a Christian man and how he saves the life of one young Jewish woman. You will embark on Antonina’s journey to safety, you will witness her loss, her gain, her survival. This book is about courage, love, determination, family, and survival. If you love historical novels, this one is for you. #bookstadog #poodles #poodlestagram #poodlesofinstagram #furbabies #dogsofinstagram #bookstagram #dogsandbooks #bookishlife #bookishlove #bookstagrammer #books #booklover #bookish #bookaholic #reading #readersofinstagram #instaread #ilovebooks #bookishcanadians #canadianbookstagram #bookreviewer #bookcommunity #bibliophile #ourdarkestnight #jenniferrobson #booksofhcc #bookreview

  15. 5 out of 5

    Savanna (savbeebooks)

    Thank you to @bookclubgirl and @williammorrowbooks for #gifting my book club this amazing book! FINALLY found a great historical fiction read that had me enthralled from the beginning to the end. There were so many ups and downs in this book, so many moments of panic for our MC Nina and then moments that are just so heartwarming. Nina is an Italian Jew during WWII. As the war worsens, Nina finds herself escaping Venice to the country side to live with Nico, a farmer studying priesthood. Pretendin Thank you to @bookclubgirl and @williammorrowbooks for #gifting my book club this amazing book! FINALLY found a great historical fiction read that had me enthralled from the beginning to the end. There were so many ups and downs in this book, so many moments of panic for our MC Nina and then moments that are just so heartwarming. Nina is an Italian Jew during WWII. As the war worsens, Nina finds herself escaping Venice to the country side to live with Nico, a farmer studying priesthood. Pretending to be his wife and madly in love, she lives with his family and works on the farm. Until a local Nazi official becomes suspicious of Nico and Nina and seeks revenge. I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read, not too "complicated" to understand, and really just flowed nicely. There was also a lot of action packed scenes that really kept the plot moving forward and I never felt like it stalled out. The chapters were also fairly short! Another great thing about this book were the characters. I loved so many of these characters! You know when you read a book and you just can't connect with anyone? This is not one of those books. Definitely a perk! I would definitely recommend this one if you are a fan of historical fiction. Even if you aren't, this would be a good one to kind of dip your toes into if you wanted to change things up!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    "She was left with the lingering memory that once, not so very long ago, and not so very far away, she had been loved." A paean to life & the power of hope. Engrossing story. Lyrical writing. Unforgettable. "She was left with the lingering memory that once, not so very long ago, and not so very far away, she had been loved." A paean to life & the power of hope. Engrossing story. Lyrical writing. Unforgettable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dill Werner

    An excellent book of love, family, and survival. It was a pleasure to be a sensitivity reader for this title.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    "Then we endure, and we remind ourselves to hope, and one day we wake and the weight of it is a little less." This was an emotional book. One not necessarily character driven, but one that deals with the effects of war on a family, on a life and on one's ability to hope. World War II can be a difficult subject matter to write about. It's a history that's well known but extremely emotional in its telling. Finding a way to immerse new, fictional characters into a narrative that real people lived "Then we endure, and we remind ourselves to hope, and one day we wake and the weight of it is a little less." This was an emotional book. One not necessarily character driven, but one that deals with the effects of war on a family, on a life and on one's ability to hope. World War II can be a difficult subject matter to write about. It's a history that's well known but extremely emotional in its telling. Finding a way to immerse new, fictional characters into a narrative that real people lived and making it believable and memorable is a tough task. While I believe the author did a good job of the first task, I feel the book fell short in the latter. Antonina "Nina" Mazin and Niccolo "Nico" Gerardi were likable characters, but they lacked depth. While I felt for them, sympathized with their struggles and smiled at their joys I never was connected to them. It seemed almost as if I were watching a documentary. To me this is the best way to describe the feeling of reading this book. You see the characters lives, come to know and understand them a little but there's distance. It isn't the intimate picture normally given in a book. Nina and Nico's romance didn't feel fully developed enough to be as deep as it was portrayed in the book and while I loved his family, I found later in the story that I knew very little about them individually. This kept me separated from the story in the sense that while I cared about what happened to the characters, there was less weight to the moments for me because I felt like I barely knew them. The impact of this book came from the portrayal of the unfolding war and it's effect on the Gerardi family. To me that was the main point of the book. To show the perspective of a simple, hardworking life of a family that loved each other and how they were all changed by war. We go through the motions with Nina and Nico as they grow closer, she begins to meld in with his family and then persecution begins, first together and then separately. I think the best part of this book was that it showed war's slow progression. Things didn't happen all at once for circumstances to become terrible. Harrowing events stole away piece after piece of the family's normal daily life until they were confronted with the ugliness and brutality of what they were facing. Nina's wrestling throughout the story until the end of keeping hope in the midst of utter despair is one thing I did appreciate about this book. Her ability to look past present pain and be determined to reach towards the future, towards hope, is something I could appreciate about her. One thing I do wish is that the author would've shown both sides. We see Nina's side of the difficulties and while her's and Nico's may have looked similar, it felt like the story was missing something when Nico was gone for good portions of the book and then back near the end to wrap things up quickly. But the ending itself I felt like needed to be expanded upon. While this whole book was simply from the perspective of this one woman and her life with this family I would've liked more expounding on everything that was going on. The wrap up at the end felt a little too clean cut for all that had happened. The writing for this book was good, I just felt the author needed to develop the characters themselves more and add even a bit of filler so we can be further invested in their lives. Things like scenes between Nico and Nina after they're together. They talk of being deeply in love but the jump from stranger to lover seemed quick when it's read. They needed more small, sweet moments for their strong love to be believable. Also, further detail on the father, Aldo and the siblings. While I know who they are, I don't know their personalities beyond Carlo and why I should care for them, they're merely parts of the story to fit as side characters. Fleshing them out would put weight to Nico's love for his family and their care for Nina. I did like the pacing of the book up until the end as I mentioned above. The book was somewhat laidback until it got to about 60% in and then things started to happen. Unfortunately then there was a lot of peril and plot to fit in until the ending and to me this made a lot of very impactful and weighty material seem to fly by too fast. To me it would've been better to either have Nina's ordeal start earlier or end it sooner and deal with the themes of recovery to finish out the ending. Overall this was an enjoyable read. The book was easy to get through and I believe the author really did her work on the background of the war and its effects on the community of Italian Jews. A good read for someone who likes World War II fiction, suspense and stories about the bonds of family, love and hope. – I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book I received for free through Netgalley from William Morrow and Custom House. All thoughts and opinions are my own. – Review on my blog: Babbling Books Blog

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mia Pia (mia.pia.reads IG)

    Historical fiction fans bust out your tissues and night light. Be prepared to stay up reading until you finish this book. Extra batteries for that reading light. Maybe some popcorn. It's good. Really good. Now I have to go put some cold packs on my eyes thank you very much. Historical fiction fans bust out your tissues and night light. Be prepared to stay up reading until you finish this book. Extra batteries for that reading light. Maybe some popcorn. It's good. Really good. Now I have to go put some cold packs on my eyes thank you very much.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jaymi The OC Book Girl

    This is a difficult book to review, partially because any story set during WWII is going to be dark and heartbreaking. Sadly, I couldn’t connect with the characters to feel real empathy despite the atrocities being described. It felt disjointed and didn’t flow for me. It was too up and down and the ending seemed a little far fetched. Aside from the very beginning when Nina’s father tells her it’s okay to eat non kosher food, the first 20 chapters don’t really address her religion at all or the t This is a difficult book to review, partially because any story set during WWII is going to be dark and heartbreaking. Sadly, I couldn’t connect with the characters to feel real empathy despite the atrocities being described. It felt disjointed and didn’t flow for me. It was too up and down and the ending seemed a little far fetched. Aside from the very beginning when Nina’s father tells her it’s okay to eat non kosher food, the first 20 chapters don’t really address her religion at all or the toll it takes on her spiritually to have to hide her faith. It’s more about her having to get used to backbreaking physical work on the farm and how nice and polite and kind Nicco is. It’s set up from the beginning that he will be the protective hero and they will fall in love. When the Germans arrive on the scene, it turns into a completely different book. It was emotionally stressful and brutal to read about what she endures and I believe that’s intentional. I appreciated the authors note at the end where she states that she imagines Nina and her family to be “ethnically and culturally Jewish, but in their religious practices they were not especially observant.” That helped me understand Nina’s apathy. The author’s husband’s family is the basis for some of the characters and storylines. There is some evidence that they did in fact help families escape the Nazi’s which is an amazing legacy to honor and it’s obvious how much research the author put in to setting the place and time. I wish I had connected more to the story but I still plan to read The Gown by this author.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Roriann Crouch

    5/5 I cant express how much raw emotion was in Our Darkest Night, but I appreciate every page. Im not usually reading many books involving history and Ill never know what it was like for anyone going through this, but my heart aches knowing this was the world at one time. Antonina, while fictional bore the story of many other Jewish females and I felt every one of her emotions. I was a total mess at most parts of this book wether it be unbearable happiness or utter despair. Im so glad that I too 5/5 I cant express how much raw emotion was in Our Darkest Night, but I appreciate every page. Im not usually reading many books involving history and Ill never know what it was like for anyone going through this, but my heart aches knowing this was the world at one time. Antonina, while fictional bore the story of many other Jewish females and I felt every one of her emotions. I was a total mess at most parts of this book wether it be unbearable happiness or utter despair. Im so glad that I took the time to really enjoy every page.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erika Robuck

    From devastating lows to dizzying highs, Robson takes the reader on a fraught, compelling, emotional journey. In spite of the horrors, great beauty can be found in both the settings and the characters. OUR DARKEST NIGHT is a testament to the power of true and abiding love, and the strength and grace that comes from it. Highly recommended!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Karnosky

    4.5 - Engrossing read, a well-worn storyline about WWII set in Italy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Like all of the best stories, Our Darkest Night was born from a question: who were the survivors of those forced into hiding and how could a Gentile write their story from their point of view? The title is an overarching theme of many dark nights beginning with the first on which a family of refugees has just arrived and is being sequestered in the attic at the same time two drunk German soldiers burst into the house hungry and horny. Pacifist would-be priest Nico is compelled to kill them both Like all of the best stories, Our Darkest Night was born from a question: who were the survivors of those forced into hiding and how could a Gentile write their story from their point of view? The title is an overarching theme of many dark nights beginning with the first on which a family of refugees has just arrived and is being sequestered in the attic at the same time two drunk German soldiers burst into the house hungry and horny. Pacifist would-be priest Nico is compelled to kill them both and the chapter concludes with the question, “Whenever I close my eyes, I see that night… All that blood, Nina. How will I ever wash it away?” “The day I left Venice was one of the worst days of my life… I had to say goodbye to my mother and father, to my home, to everything that was familiar and comfortable and safe. It was truly awful — and yet one part of it was good. The part when I met you.” For author Jennifer Robson, the heart and soul of this novel belongs to Nina, “the family she had lost, the family she had been given, and the love story that had led her home to a place called Mezzo Ciel.” For reader Jennifer Erickson (me), the novel’s hero is Father Bernardi, who represents the modern-day men and women who continue to “stare evil in the face and steadfastly refuse to look away.” My favorite scene is Father Bernardi’s confession to Nina, “Your love for Nico, and his for you, was meant to be. Some might call it fate. I prefer to think of it as an instance of grace...your love for him, and the strength you gain from that bond, will continue to exist--no matter how long you are separated, and no matter how distant you are from one another. Your love lives on.” They go on to recite Song of Solomon together: “Those were the words that sustained me on those long nights when I couldn’t sleep. When I’d forgotten how to hope.” Those are the words that usher in the birth of Nico and Nina’s baby daughter Lucia. “A reminder, I suppose, that we must look for light in the darkness...It’s no great secret. We rise at dawn and we do our work and we live our lives...Then we endure, and we remind ourselves to hope, and one day we wake and the weight of it is a little less.” Father Bernardi’s wisdom in World War Two Italy rings just as true for our worldwide viral pandemic today. As Nico so eloquently expresses, “The stars are bright and you are in my arms…No matter where I am...near or far...you are the one who brightens my dreams. You were the one who paints the sky with stardust.” Our Darkest Night delivers--and deserves--a constellation!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Winnie - SquishyMuMu

    "The day I left Venice was one of the worst days of my life," she whispered. "I had to say goodbye to my mother and father, to my home, to everything that was familiar and comfortable and safe. It was truly awful—and yet one part of it was good. The part when I met you." Please give me just a moment because this book... From the beginning, I knew I will finish in a day and I did! I honestly don't know how to describe it but the book got me feeling so many emotions 😭😭 It has a lot of sad but also "The day I left Venice was one of the worst days of my life," she whispered. "I had to say goodbye to my mother and father, to my home, to everything that was familiar and comfortable and safe. It was truly awful—and yet one part of it was good. The part when I met you." Please give me just a moment because this book... From the beginning, I knew I will finish in a day and I did! I honestly don't know how to describe it but the book got me feeling so many emotions 😭😭 It has a lot of sad but also sweet moments that will make your eyes teary. It is definitely recommended to be added in your TBR! Thank you to the author, Goodreads and William Morrow for the ARC giveaway!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

    RATING: 4 STARS 2021; William Morrow Paperbacks/Harper Collins Last year I read The Gown and really enjoyed the story despite it being set in dual timelines. It was set post-WWII so that did strike my interest a bit more. Our Darkest Night was one I hemmed and hawed over for awhile. It didn't appear to have a dual timeline, but it was set during WWII. I love historical fiction, and WWII was one of my interests in the genre. Then suddenly the past several years, so many novels were published set du RATING: 4 STARS 2021; William Morrow Paperbacks/Harper Collins Last year I read The Gown and really enjoyed the story despite it being set in dual timelines. It was set post-WWII so that did strike my interest a bit more. Our Darkest Night was one I hemmed and hawed over for awhile. It didn't appear to have a dual timeline, but it was set during WWII. I love historical fiction, and WWII was one of my interests in the genre. Then suddenly the past several years, so many novels were published set during WWII (with another storyline set in contemporary time). They seem to be the same recycled stories that I could not tell you now how the plots differed. When William Morrow sent me their request form (which I never get chosen for), I decided to request out and if I got it, I would read it. I received book mail and was happy to see I was given a physical galley. It took me just over two weeks to read, but that was more of when I was reading it than the actual engagement level. I read the last half last night, and couldn't put it down till I finished. There wasn't anything "new" in this book, but the characters really caught my heart. I felt so invested in them, I would often hold my breath while I read an anxious scene. There is a villain in this story to rival Jack Randall (Outlander) and until I finished the book, I could not rest my worry. At times the novel is super sweet in a romance-y way, but at those moments I was willing to give them that happiness after all they went through. It was also nice to have this novel set in Italy and see what a farming family went through during those hard times. ***I received a complimentary copy of a physical galley and ebook from the publisher. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe

    When my OC Books and Brunch book club won a year of book club books from William Morrow and Book Club Girl, I could not contain my excitement. One of my goals this year is to read genres I don’t usually read, and book club is the perfect way to do it. Our January choice was Our Darkest Night (my first historical fiction, gasp!). I usually don’t read romance, and NEVER read historical fiction, so this was a first for me. Our Darkest Night is about Nina, a Jewish woman who tries to escape the Nazis When my OC Books and Brunch book club won a year of book club books from William Morrow and Book Club Girl, I could not contain my excitement. One of my goals this year is to read genres I don’t usually read, and book club is the perfect way to do it. Our January choice was Our Darkest Night (my first historical fiction, gasp!). I usually don’t read romance, and NEVER read historical fiction, so this was a first for me. Our Darkest Night is about Nina, a Jewish woman who tries to escape the Nazis by pretending to be married to Nico, a Christian farmer. Her father arranges for her to escape the city, so she shows up with him to his farm one day, telling his family they got married. Farm life is hard for Nina, and it is harder still to lie to Nico’s family, who she is growing to care for. When they catch the eye of a suspicious Nazi officer, Nina and Nico try to figure out what to do to protect their family and each other. Thoughts: I found the writing in this book to be beautiful and I could imagine myself in 1943 Italy. The story is interesting and heartbreaking, especially because, though fiction, it mirrors many stories that survivors of the Holocaust faced. Unfortunately, the book was slow, and instead of having you feel or grow with the characters, the book basically laid out what was going on. I loved learning about Nico’s family, but my favorite character was Stella. The parts of the story that included her and Nina were some of my favorites, while simultaneously being the most heartbreaking. The book took an ordinary, hard-working family’s story and showed the pain and love and suffering they went through. The story captured everyday life, and compared the mundane tasks of a farm with the electrifying fear of running for your life. This story showed the power of hope and family, but I do wish there was more character development in the story. It seemed that everyone stayed the same, and I would have liked to hear more about the supporting characters in this story. Nevertheless, this was a powerful topic and I enjoyed the read. 3.5 stars!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy Specht

    4.5 stars rounded up! I really enjoyed this book. It’s a very typical read of mine, I love tragic stories situated during World War II. This one was set a bit differently as it was set in Italy. It’s about a Jewish girl hidden through a fake marriage to an Italian farmer. The author has made fantastic characters for this novel. The two main characters that you root for and the villain who you hate instantly. My only critic for this book is that I would have liked a little more detail in the love 4.5 stars rounded up! I really enjoyed this book. It’s a very typical read of mine, I love tragic stories situated during World War II. This one was set a bit differently as it was set in Italy. It’s about a Jewish girl hidden through a fake marriage to an Italian farmer. The author has made fantastic characters for this novel. The two main characters that you root for and the villain who you hate instantly. My only critic for this book is that I would have liked a little more detail in the love story. I feel it fell short and happened too abruptly. Overall this was a great read and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is into historical fiction set during the war!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Yet another WWll story of survival. As the child of a Canadian veteran these stories break my heart.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cherihy808

    My first 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ of 2021! I loved this book so much! It was a dramatic love story mixed with the tragedies and horrors of WWII. I fell in love with Nico’s character from the moment he entered the story. There is so much I loved about this book: the characters, the details & descriptions and the unexpected love story between Nina and Nico (just to name a few). And as hard as it is to read about the horrific things that occurred during WWII, I have to say that this author did a wonderful job My first 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ of 2021! I loved this book so much! It was a dramatic love story mixed with the tragedies and horrors of WWII. I fell in love with Nico’s character from the moment he entered the story. There is so much I loved about this book: the characters, the details & descriptions and the unexpected love story between Nina and Nico (just to name a few). And as hard as it is to read about the horrific things that occurred during WWII, I have to say that this author did a wonderful job writing about it. The ending may have been a little far fetched but it was written so beautifully that I was able to look past that and was very happy with how it ended. My favorite historical fiction book that I read in 2019 was The Nightingale and in 2020 it was The Book of Lost Names....I think this novel compares to both of those. Even though this is only the 2nd book I’ve read so far this year, I predict it to be one of my top 10 favorites of 2021. I highly recommend this one!

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