by Lisa Scottoline
Hardcover- $17.49

Click on the ORANGE Amazon Button for Book Description & Pricing Info

Overall rating:


How would you rate this book?

Member ratings

  "Especially in today's political clime, this book needs to be read!" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 06/19/21

Eternal, Lisa Scottoline, author; Cassandra Campbell, Eduard Ballerini, narrators
The book begins in 1957, when Elisabetta is preparing to tell her son an important secret. He has attained an age that makes him mature enough to handle the news he will soon learn about his parents.. He is now a man. As she tells her secret, she takes the reader down a road of barbarism, through a time of death and brutality, cruelty and hate. The place is Mussolini’s Fascist Italy.
The story begins in 1937, and is largely concerned with the relationship among three friends and their families. They are loyal and devoted to each other, all three are in the same grade and are beginning to be attracted to the opposite sex.
Elisabetta is naïve. She is just becoming a woman, but her mother is holding her back from looking like one. Marco is already a lady’s man. People naturally take to him. Sandro, the only Jew among them, is a nerd. He is a great mathematician and loves his books. They all, however, love each other. Soon, Sandro and Marco discover they both love Elisabetta in a new and different way. She, however, thinks she loves them both as she begins to come to terms with her own newly awakened feelings. Will their friendship stand the test of her choice of only one of them?
Marco, Sandro and Elisabetta live in Rome. Although it is the seat of the Vatican, Italy is under the fascist rule of Mussolini. One of Marco’s brothers, Emilio, is a priest, the other, Arlo, is an anti-fascist. Marco and his father are ardent fascists. Sandro’s mother is a doctor and his father is a lawyer. His father is also a fascist. His sister Rosa is not. Elisabetta’s father hates the fascists. After her mother abandoned them, he became an alcoholic. He had once been an accomplished pianist. When Mussolini declares his alliance with Hitler, the three families feel that no harm will come to any of them. They fought for their country, had medals, were members of the Fascist Party, and supported Mussolini unconditionally. Il Duce ruled. This was not to prove true.
Marco has a learning disability that no one is aware of, and when he gets into trouble at school, he quits. He feels lucky to get a job working in the fascist government. He rises through the ranks. His black uniform brings him respect at first, but also the distance of some who fear his power.
As the race laws become stricter and Jews are more and more limited and robbed of their possessions, most Italians think only of themselves. They turn a blind eye to the suffering of their friends. Their politics and fear of retribution holds them back from taking a more honorable stand. As conditions worsen, Marco is no longer allowed to see his best friend Sandro, because he is a Jew. He defies the laws and still continues to visit and help Sandro’s family, regardless of the threats against him. Although his father is also an ardent fascist, he helps to provide for the needs of Sandro’s family too. When Marco and Sandro compete for Elisabetta’s affection, Marco’s heart begins to harden against him. He makes false assumptions that feed his anger.
Sandro’s father believed that they would all be safe, even as Jews, because of his devotion to Il Duce and Italy. He would listen to no one. Quietly, he began to help other Jews to apply for special status and safety. When Hitler invades Italy, conditions grow worse for all the Jews. Hitler’s rules were more draconian and hardships grew. Helplessness and hopelessness pervaded the ghetto in which they lived. Friends and neighbors were frightened to offer aid because of the brutal punishment and arrests meted out to the “traitors”.
Every day, they teetered between life and death. Those who were not fooled nor naïve, and who had the wherewithal to leave, fled Italy. Sandro’s father had spent his money to help others, even though few could help him, for his attitude was not always the prevailing one.
After the Germans blackmailed the Jews, confiscating all of their remaining assets, they were rounded up. Marco and his father Pepe, were astounded and refused to allow them to be captured. They were unsuccessful in their attempt to save them, and what occurred afterwards is the basis for Elisabetta’s secret.
It is a hard story to read, but a necessary story to read because it defines human nature clearly. Too late, many realized how blind and selfish they had been, but some remained adamantly cruel and continued to hate innocent people for their own benefit even after the war ended, and the horrific truth was revealed.
In this book, the author achieved something other authors have not been able to as successfully. In creating fictional characters that experienced the slow degradation of an innocent group of people, and then the deterioration of their society, based solely on their religion, she has authentically recreated the fear and tension that existed as rule after rule was enacted and accepted by an acquiescent public. They cheered the injury to those of the Jewish faith, as long as they were not harmed. They didn’t care what Hitler and his Brown Shirts or Mussolini and his black uniformed thugs did to hurt others.
The book lucidly illustrates the power and evil of Mussolini and Hitler, and it defines the Holocaust’s horrors with such clarity, that the reader will feel the fear, the shock, the hopelessness, the eventual helplessness and powerlessness that the Jews were forced to face. The inability of so many to believe that such behavior could be accepted by anyone, even those who chose to ignore it to protect their own families as they watched the families of others sacrificed to selfishly save themselves, was writ large on the page. If they had not complied with the wishes of Mussolini and Hitler’s thugs, perhaps the war would not have gone on for so long and fewer would have been tortured and died.
In June, 1950, when the war had been over for five years. Marco was still living in Rome with Elisabetta, now his wife. Once again, he was successful. However, only 16 Jews from the Roman Ghetto survived that awful round up. Believing that you will be exceptional and not harmed while those around you are, is ignorant and arrogant. Although the characters are fictional, the despicable events occurred. This story is basically true in all other aspects of it, other than many of the characters. The author hopes the reader will appreciate how families and friends were loyal, but this was not the rule, and was rather the exception or there would not have been so many casualties of that war.
So for the innocent reader, you should know that the Jews were humiliated, harassed, blackmailed, robbed, evicted, tortured, beaten, imprisoned, starved and worked to death by very real people who had more evil than goodness coursing through their veins. Just a few of the horrific incidents that factually occurred follow:
!-The Nazis did blackmail the Jews with demands for gold. Leaders of the Jewish community did beat the odds and raise the bounty. Many of the important Rabbis and leaders involved were real. Still, they were then rounded up and the ghetto was emptied.
2-The SyndromeK Virus incident was a real fabrication used to save threatened Jewish hospital patients, and that doctor did successfully save the Jewish patients in the hospital.
3-The roundup of all the Jews in the ghetto did occur, and it is true that only 16 survived.
4-Synagogues and libraries were looted and destroyed.
5-There were barking dogs, thugs, violence and crematoriums.
6- The Pope was largely silent.
7-FDR refused them refuge.
8-Hate reigned throughout Hitler’s dynasty.
Only luck and/or the goodness of the odd friend, relative or stranger, helped to save the victims from the barbaric, monstrously cruel, vicious Nazis and Fascists who had absolutely no moral compass.
Although the Jews trusted in their G-d, and clung to their hope that righteous people would not allow the hatefulness unfolding to continue, there were too few with courage and righteousness and too many who were selfish and evil. No one helped the Jews and the same hatefulness is spreading today. Let us hope there is a far different outcome.
So, in conclusion, the history is mostly accurate, even with some contrived moments of dialogue. The love story is like a fairytale, but it fully realizes the fear, confusion and utter helplessness of all involved, not only Jews. The book is performed well. Each character is true to him/herself and the emotions described are genuine. Sometimes the story was too melodramatic when melodrama was unnecessary because the subject matter brought enough emotion to the page on its own.

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 06/23/21

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 06/29/21

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 03/19/22

  "" by MPennington (see profile) 05/24/22

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 08/21/22

A different WWII perspective! We all enjoyed this heartbreaking story!

  "" by MindyK (see profile) 12/14/22

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 02/19/23

Remember me

Now serving over 80,000 book clubs & ready to welcome yours. Join us and get the Top Book Club Picks of 2022 (so far).



Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...