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Desperate to prove himself to his politician father, Esmond Lowndes is sent to Italy to forge ties between the British Union of Fascists and Mussolini’s government. In Florence, he discovers art and passion amongst the eccentric expatriates and glamorous locals. But with the coming of war Esmond chooses to leave his past behind and joins the Florentine resistance. Finding himself closely bound to his comrades and unexpectedly in love, Esmond becomes involved in undercover operations and assassination plots, culminating in a final mission of extraordinary daring.
Rich in historical detail and utterly compelling.
Exhilarating ... Preston's flair for recreating atmosphere and contemporary speech is immaculate. Many layers enrich and deepen the story ... The combination of setting, Renaissance art and two mutually attracted foreigners may remind some of The English Patient. Preston asks the same question as Michael Ondaatje: what is left of civilisation after the inhumanity of war? Today, "David" still stands in Florence, an imperturbable rebuke to an epoch of torture and terror.
[R]ich and evocative ... powerfully affecting, ambitious in its scope, precise in its attention to detail and infused with a love for Florence and its motley eccentrics - their courage and their suffering.
It's a title befitting an epic, and Preston emphatically delivers in this, his third novel but his first foray into historical fiction. That he's a natural at it is clear .... Vividly imagined and richly atmospheric, Preston's dramatic tale propels the reader towards a tense and tragic final showdown.
Moving ... Preston writes, in unaffected but affecting prose, of Lowndes' realisation of what the times demand of him.
Preston's prose is as eloquent, and as atmospheric, as always. The perfect read to pair with that first sundowner.
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