By: Kimberly Sullivan
Publication Date: October 21, 2022
Reviewed by: Tripti Kandari
In author Kimberly Sullivan's newest novel, In the Shadow of The Apennines, Samantha Burke unearths comfort and solace in Italy's idyllic towns and cultures and an awe-inspiring journal of fortitude amid adversity.
Samantha Burke ventures thousands of miles across regions and cultures to scrape peace from her turbulent life. In her bid to escape a failed marriage to a relation of 26 years, a teetering writing career, and tittle-tattle surrounding her life, she resolves to move from upstate New York. The wintry pastoral mountains of Marsicano in the Italian region of Abruzzo become a source of refuge and a spark for her literary passion. However, unwelcoming circumstances follow her relics even to the remote Italian town. Samantha's irresponsible action puts her in a situation that makes the residents of her new home battle shy of her. The writing makes no significant improvement. To intensify things further, the flashbacks of her youth full of memories of love, dreams, and hopes only add to the gloomy reality. Despite her best efforts, Samantha doubts yet another decision of her life.
To her relief, her mundane life disrupts by the chance discovery of a cached trunk in her snug Marsicano property. A store for a journal, it pledges a stir in the monotony of her everyday life. As she follows the footsteps of the journal, Samantha transports to Abruzzo, where the story of a shepherdess, Elena, unfolds against the backdrop of the ill-boding 1915 Italian earthquake and World War I. Samantha channels her confidence from her one and only companion in town. Elena's memoirs of first love, dreams and anxieties, strength and survival provide a purpose for her, and she finds them fitting with her own aspirations and concerns. The diary of Elena gives a road that reawakens the latent pit of a purpose in Samantha's life: for writing and living, for herself and her own.
Sullivan delivers a brief but poignant brush with a vibrant culture. She weaves an expressive narrative around Marciano's traditional folk dances, women in traditional garb, the San Rocco celebration, and Italian literature and folk songs. These components, while subtle and concise, serve as a representation of Italian culture in its most humble and idyllic form. Samantha's depictions show another side of Marciano's society and its unaffected people, which reflects regional perceptions in two ways. The veil of bias of a foreigner from the first world appears first. This cloak lifts over time as she relives the history of the Abruzzo region through Elena, witnessing a new lighted vision of the town and its people in their trials and tribulations.
In The Shadow of The Apennines emphasizes the idea of cultivating a positive self-image. A conflict with self among several women of different times and spaces penetrates and drives the tale forward. They represent individuals who lose the fabric of who they are because of their crippling self-image and, in turn, undermining it against others. As these women recoil in a spirit of resilience and tenacity, they become powerful symbols of strength and fortitude.
Quill says: In the Shadow of The Apennines presents a unique tapestry of human life, woven with the threads of 'happiest and tragic moments' - a fascinating fiction with resonant themes.
For more information on In The Shadow of The Apennines, please visit the author's website at: https://kimberlysullivanauthor.com