The Light in the Ruins (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

 The Light In The Ruins by Chris Bohjalian begins in 1955; a woman in an apartment
in Florence will open her door to a killer, a monster who cuts the heart out of
his victim. Before WWII the Rosati family lived well in their Tuscan estate,
Villa Chimera.  There were two handsome sons, a beautiful daughter, and a
daughter in-law who gave them two boisterous grandchildren.  They were a
happy family until the ominous clouds of WWII roll across their serene blue
sky. The terror that was to come began the day a German and an Italian officer
visited Villa Chimera demanding to see the Etruscan ruins located on the
estate.  The Germans were moving antiquities from Italy to Germany; the
Italian Army had little influence to stop the pillaging by their stronger
ally.  As the war turns against the Germans, life at Villa Chimera becomes
more complicated.  Now, a decade later, Francesca Rosati lies dead in her
modest apartment, her heart cut from her body. It will be the task of Detective
Serafina to discover the identity of this brutal killer.  Serafina also
bears scars from the war; she fought against the Nazis with the
Partisans.  The secrets of the past may be intruding on the present. 
As Bohjalian takes the reader back into the years of WWII, he does so
skillfully, presenting Italian soldiers in Mussolini’s army, Partisans, and
Germans as complex characters.  There can be good or bad on either side.
This is one of the best works of fiction I have read on WWII with vivid,
complicated characters.

— Deon Stonehouse


From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge—set in war-ravaged Tuscany.

1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills of Tuscany, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. But when two soldiers—a German and an Italian—arrive at their doorstep asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis’ bucolic tranquility is shattered.
1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence Police Department, has successfully hidden her tragic scars from WWII, at least until she’s assigned to a gruesome new case—a serial killer who is targeting the remaining members of the Rosati family one by one. Soon, she will find herself digging into past secrets that will reveal a breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty, and the mysterious ways of the heart.

About the Author

Chris Bohjalian is the author of twenty books, including The Guest RoomClose Your Eyes, Hold HandsThe Sandcastle GirlsSkeletons at the FeastThe Double Bind; and Midwives which was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah’s Book Club. Chris’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages, and three novels have become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers). Chris lives in Vermont and can be found at or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Litsy, and Goodreads.

Praise For…

An O, The Oprah Magazine "Must-Read Book"

“Suspenseful to the end, this is both a satisfying mystery and a gut-wrenching account of moral dilemma in a time of moral struggle.”
People, 4 Stars

“Dead solid perfect. Bohjalian has written another winner.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Brilliantly crafted. . . . Will tear your heart out.”
The Washington Post
“Addictive, fast-paced. . . . Fling open the shutters. Settle in a comfortable chair. Lock the doors. Then turn to the first page of The Light in the Ruins and let the shadows in.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

“At the heart of a good novel is a good story, and this story is a doozy. Bohjalian expertly weaves together a tale of how [WWII] split Italy between the people who willingly collaborated with the Germans and the ones who did not.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“An intriguing tale of Bohjalian complexity . . . . Portrays life in German-occupied Italy with historical detail but gives it a human face.”
The Miami Herald

“Masterfully crafted.”
The Washington Times

The Light in the Ruins elucidates, haunts and raises moral quandaries . . . . Riveting.”
USA Today

“Bohjalian subtly and skillfully manipulates our suspicions. . . . Well-researched, historically interesting.”
The Boston Globe

“A spellbinding mix of history and mystery.”
Parade magazine

“Brilliant. . . . A page-turner that the reader will not soon forget.”

The Columbus Dispatch

“One of the . . . best books of summer.”
Good Housekeeping

“Hypnotic and harrowing, a mesmerizing read. . . . Run—don’t walk—to the bookstore for this gem.”
The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

“Historic fiction at its very finest. . . . Not to be missed.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal

“A masterpiece. . . . A terrific read that will transport both long-time fans and newcomers back in time to one of the most turbulent periods in Italian history.

“Bohjalian has a well-honed ability to keep his reader guessing.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Gives readers a look at the murderous atmosphere of fascist Italy, a warped circumstance that reverberated years after the war ended.”
San Antonio Express-News

The Light in the Ruins offers an engaging story that unspools in such a way as to keep the reader with her nose to the pages long after the light has actually faded.”
The New York Journal of Books

“A taut, suspenseful page-turner. . . . Bohjalian effortlessly turns a work of historical fiction into a breathless whodunit.”
The Armenian Weekly

“Chilling. . . . A gifted storyteller, Bohjalian provides his readers with yet another engaging book—a murder mystery that keeps you guessing right up to the end.”
The Missourian

“Thoroughly gripping, beautiful, and astonishingly vengeful, this novel is a heartbreaker.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Mastering matters subtle and grotesque, Bohjalian . . . create[s] an exceptional work of suspense rooted in the tragic aberrations of war.”
Booklist (starred review)

“A soulful why-done-it.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Incredible. . . . Bohjalian’s best yet.”
The Auburn Citizen

“Stunning. . . . Bohjalian specializes in the suspense created when people are cut off, physically and emotionally, from society.”
Tucson Weekly

“A riveting re-creation of a time and place long gone, but not forgotten.”
Shelf Awareness

“A tale so deftly conceived it . . . transported me into the starkly efficient mind of an Eisenhower-era killer, then to hills of Tuscany during the heat of World War II. . . . It’s almost impossible not to be enthralled by this suspenseful saga, a heady mix of compromised morality, betrayal, murderous revenge and ill-advised romantic entanglement.”
—Patricia Smith, The Washington Independent Review of Books 
Product Details
ISBN: 9780307743923
ISBN-10: 0307743926
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: April 22nd, 2014
Pages: 320
Language: English
Series: Vintage Contemporaries