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Item #: BK380-9392
FIRST RAINS OF AUTUMN and ENRICO'S WAR [Novels] Aubrey Diem and Enrico Loewenthal 1992 Paperback Fine 2 Copies Available
By Diem, Aubrey and Enrico Loewenthal
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Canada, 1992. 238 pp. Paperback. Fine

Two novels located in the Italian Alps, based on true stories of climbing and survival in the Alps. 

Aosta, Breuil-Cervinia, Detroit, Mont Tremblant, New Hampshire, Vermont, Zermatt - the time is the waning days of World War II. An American flyer is shot down over the Po Valley and taken into the Alps of the Valle d'Aosta by a Jewish-Italian partisan leader to recuperate from his injuries.

A determined, beautiful woman runs the remote mountain hotel where the flyer must spend the winter. The naive New Englander and the earthy Valdotaine reveal to each other their lives before the war, he growing up in a small New Hampshire town, she marrying a mountain guide and going to live in the Valpelline. In the isolated winter beauty of the Alps, they fall in love.

 
Thus does First Rains unfold, entwining the stunning landscape of the Alps, a sensitive love story, and the brutal reality of the war that is being fought in the snow covered mountain of the Valle d'Aosta. The words of Primo Levi, who was imprisoned in Aosta before being sent to Auschwitz, anticipate the action and provide an authentic counterpoint to the themes of the narration.

Based on true incidents, the author unites the old and new worlds for a brief moment in a novel that is both engrossing and enlightening about life in the high mountains of Italy and Switzerland. The reader will discover the Alps that are the domain of the herder, skier, and mountaineer; experience the nuances of the changing seasons; sense the ardour of true love; thrill to the challenge of ski racing in Quebec; taste the emotions of black jazz in Detroit; and feel the elation of human triumph over perilous nature.

Played out against the backdrop of the symbolic Matterhorn, First Rains is an allegorical account of the tumultuous years of the Second World War. It traces the rise of the Third Reich, portrays the destruction of a mountain culture, warns of the despoliation of the Alpine environment by a technologically driven society and exposes the corruption that is endemic to human behavior. The novel will appeal to all who gain strength and creativity from communion with nature.

First Rains is written for an international audience. The prologue is a capsulated history of the Valle d'Aosta from Celtic times to the ascendancy of Fascism. The epilogue carries the narrative to the present. A glossary provides a concise explanation of technical terms, personalities, historical events, and places in North America and Europe. Maps enable the reader to pinpoint the location of the action. The book is further enhanced with original artwork, old snapshots of the Aosta Valley, and rare photos of the Italian partisans fighting the Nazis during 1944 and 1945.

Enrico's War, the amazing true story of a young Jewish-Italian partisan who miraculously survives the savage, brutal fighting and ultimately is among the commanders who liberate Aosta, follows First Rains. It provides, along with Levi's writing and a final quotation by Eli Wiesel on the banality of the holocaust and the suicide of Levi, a short parallel narrative of World War II and the conditions that continue to feed the viruses of fascism and Nazism that are still amazingly resilient, not only in a reunited Germany, but also in the democratic nations of North America and Europe.


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