It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy. After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them. But he is no ordinary priest. Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line. Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews. But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?
No review this time, but I can give you an excerpt of this book. I hope you will enjoy reading it and take the time to check the book out. Have fun!
In this extract from Chapter 13, 12 year-old Leo goes back to the Jewish ghetto determined to rescue his friend Ethan’s cat who has just had kittens. The Jewish community has just paid a ransom of 50 kilos of gold to the Nazi commander of Rome so they can remain in the city in the narrow warren of streets beside the Tiber. But in the early hours of the morning of October the 16th 1943, their trust is betrayed.
Leo is rescued by an Italian partisan friend Gianni, who runs a café in the ghetto. They witness the brutal round-up of all the inhabitants of the ghetto who are corralled into the excavation area around the Portico di Ottavia before transportation to Concentration Camps.
* * * * * *
Two guards were posted across the way from us in front of an alley.
I heard someone shout in Italian. “The Germans are taking everyone away!”
A woman ran out of the alley, limping, dragging her leg in a plaster cast. A coat over her nightie, her shopping bag in her hand. She handed the sentries cigarettes. They accepted and she asked them what was happening.
“Taking away all the Jews,” the older soldier answered in faltering Italian. He seemed kind.
The woman slapped her hand against the plaster cast. “But I have a broken leg. I am going with my family to the hospital.”
“Ja, ja,” the older soldier said, his accent soft.
“Austrians,” Gianni whispered to me. Gianni wasn’t Jewish. He would be safe.
The Austrian gestured with his hand out of the ghetto and nodded. He was going to let her slip away with her family. “Where are the children?” he asked.
But the woman went back up the alley and started to call to an upstairs window. “Sterina, Sterina my friend, come! They are coming to take us away!”
“In a minute! I’ll dress the baby and be right down!” her friend called back.
But then our view of what happened to the injured woman was blocked. Captured families straggled more or less single file down the middle of the street. SS troopers at
the head and tail of each little band, prodding them with the butts of their machine guns to keep them in line. Mothers and fathers carried babies and toddlers in their arms, holding the older ones by hand. A father still in his dressing gown kept his hand on his child’s head. An old woman with one shoe limped along, drooling from the mouth. I even saw the clothes-seller who earlier refused to believe mad Celeste’s warnings.
Gianni turned pale and put his arm around my shoulder. We watched a paralyzed man carried in a chair. An old grandmother, deaf and blind, stumbling over her long skirts. A mother with a tiny baby clasped in her arms. A woman grasped the hand of a German officer, weeping and kissing it. Perhaps she hoped to soften his heart. But he shouted at her and cuffed her across the head.
Stunned passers-by gathered on corners. Rigid. Like us. Too frightened to do anything.
The woman with the broken leg came out of the alley with four children. The Austrians let her pass. But at that moment an officer and two soldiers came down the street.
“Juda? Juda?” The officer shouted at her. He was holding a card.
The woman, fearless, grabbed it off him. “You, your family and other Jews in your household are being moved. Take with you food to last eight days,” she read. “Ration and identification cards. Pack a small suitcase. Lock up your apartment. The sick cannot under any circumstances remain behind. You and your family have 20 minutes after the receipt of this card.” She flung it back at him. “But we not Jewish! These are my children.”
The officer asked her name and consulted a list. She told him. He shook his head. Her name was not there. The woman staggered away with the children. As soon as the Germans backs were turned the children fled down side streets. The woman fainted. Several passersby came to her rescue and carried her away. I hoped she’d make it, this fearless woman who had pretended not to be Jewish.
A short while later, German soldiers dragged the injured woman’s friend with a baby in her arms out of the alleyway, then the rest of her family. “I should have listened!” she cried. Dressing the baby had proved to be fatal.
Thank you, Patricia Murphy and Rachelsrandomresourses.
About the author
Patricia Murphy is the bestselling author of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and Dan’s Diary – the War of Independence 1920-22 published by Poolbeg.
She has also written the prize-winning “The Chingles” trilogy of children’s Celtic fantasy novels. Patricia is also an award winning Producer/Director of documentaries including Children of Helen House, the BBC series on a children’s hospice and Born to Be Different Channel 4’s flagship series following children born with disabilities. Many of her groundbreaking programmes are about children’s rights and topics such as growing up in care, crime and the criminal justice system. She has also made a number of history programmes including Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson for Channel 4 and has produced and directed films for the Open University.
Patricia grew up in Dublin and is a graduate in English and History from Trinity College Dublin and of Journalism at Dublin City University. She now lives in Oxford with her husband and young daughter.
Social Media Links – Website: https://www.patriciamurphyonline.com Twitter: @_PatriciaMurphy Facebook – h https://www.facebook.com/Leos-War-Irelands-Secret-World-War-2-Hero-714055598929732 Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Mollys-Diary-The-1916-Rising-277254289106782/