Devotion by Louisa Young

Devotion is the third in a series of books featuring Riley & Nadine Purefoy and Peter Locke. The first was one of my favourite books about WW1, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You, and the second was The Heroes Welcome. You can read this as a stand alone book though it will be a richer experience if you have read the previous two. And they are both excellent books so you really should just read them! That said, it’s been a while since I read the first two and I couldn’t remember all the details. Devotion takes the story from 1928 up to 1939 looking at post-war Britain still in recovery and moving through the 30s as the threat of war begins to loom once more in Europe.

Devotion is told from the viewpoints of many characters: Riley and Nadine of course and Peter as he begins to emerge from his post-war depression, Peter’s children Tom and Kitty, Peter’s friend Mabel and her daughter Iris, and Nadine’s Italian Jewish family. Through these characters we see all kinds of Devotion. Riley and Nadine’s is the great love story and focus of the previous books and their love continues to shine throughout the novel. Tom is quite taken by his Italian family and in particular Nenna. They meet as children but as they grow they discover they are developing stronger feelings for each other and their love story was a central theme of this book. Nenna’s family have another devotion, to the cause of fascism and I felt irritation and sorrow in equal measure for Nenna’s father Aldo. He could not – or would not – see the growing threats to Jewish people as Mussolini began to adopt more of Hitler’s policies in Italy. Like so many people, he refused to accept that his family who had lived in Italy for 2000 years could be affected by such policies. His blinkered devotion to fascism and refusal to consider leaving put his family in great danger.

Devotion is a wonderful novel, a story I was completely immersed in. It has the feel of an epic love story even though it only covers slightly more than a decade. The themes of racism and fascism are honestly explored and despite the events in Europe, there is a lot of hope in the story particularly for Peter Locke as he overcomes his demons. Louisa Young’s writing is just beautiful throughout making this a 5* read for me. I really hope that this isn’t the last time we meet these characters as I want to know more about how their lives are affected by World War Two.

My thanks to the publishers and THE Book Club on Facebook for my review copy of this book. It will be published by The Borough Press tomorrow, Thursday 2nd June in hardback and as an ebook with the paperback due to follow next year. You can order a copy here: Devotion

From the back of the book

From the bestselling author of My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You and The Heroes’ Welcome, Louisa Young’s Devotion is a novel of family, love, race and politics set during the electric change of the 1930s.

Tom loves Nenna. Nenna loves her father. Her father loves Mussolini.

Ideals and convictions are not always so clear in the murky years between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Second. For Tom and Kitty Locke, children of the damaged WW1 generation, visiting their cousin Nenna in Rome is a pure joy. For their adoptive parents Nadine and Riley, though, the ground is still shifting underfoot.

Nobody knew in 1919 that the children they were bearing would be just ripe for the next war in 1939; nobody knew, in 1935, the implications of an Italian Jewish family supporting Mussolini.

Meanwhile Peter Locke and Mabel Zachary have found each other again together in London, itself a city reborn but riddled with its own intolerances. As the heat rises across Europe, voices grow louder and everyone must brace once more to decide what should bring them together, and what must drive them apart.

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