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In Love and War by Alex Preston

In Love and War

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August 2014 eBook of the Month.

A remarkably captivating book that starts as a slow-burner then sparks into an absolute firecracker of a read. The introduction to Fascism in Florence just before World War Two, when we know life is on the brink of upheaval and collapse, is artfully portrayed by the author. Lazy summer days full of vibrant idealists and English eccentricity is peppered by prejudice, corruption and brutality, deliberately keeping you on edge and apprehensive. As war breaks out, we observe as Esmond the title character is influenced by others, we bear witness as he alters, changes, transforms. The author brings this time, this city, these people, their ideals vividly to life. At times this is an extremely uncomfortable read, however every word, every thought, every emotion feels completely essential. Prepare to sit on the edge of the precipice, prepare for the heartrending plummet of shock and upset, prepare for the impact that a powerful and compelling novel leaves behind. ~ Liz Robinson

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. In 1937, disgraced by a scandalous love affair and sent down from Cambridge, Esmond Lowndes is despatched to Florence to redeem himself; his father, a senior member of the British Union of Fascists, charges him with establishing a B.U.F. wireless station and forging links with Mussolini’s government. But with the coming of war, Esmond questions his allegiance and joins the Resistance, falling in love with a fellow freedom fighter, and always keeping in his sights the despicable head of the Fascist secret police. A stylish compelling story of passion and conflict.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Jane Brown - 'A fascinating debut book by Alex Preston set in 1930s Florence a  this was a great account of fascism, love and war.' Read full review >
  • Evelyn Love-Gajardo - 'and by the end I wanted to jump on a plane and go back to Florence, so well does the author describe this beautiful city.' Read full review >
  • Michelle Hodson - 'The characters were wonderfully drawn and I was totally immersed in the life of Esmond and Eva.' Read full review >
  • Cathy Petersen - 'The young son of a right wing English politician struggles to find his own path in Florence in the early years of the Second World War.' Read full review >
  • Stephanie Blakey - 'This is an amazing book and unlike anything I've ever read before...I was moved to tears and both the story and characters stayed with me once the book was finished. ' Read full review >
  • Glenda Worth - 'The author puts forward a strong character in Esmond who falls for a fellow antifascist during their fight for justice.' Read full review >
  • Helen Lowry - 'A story of love, passion, and history set in Florence before and during the second world war...A good read that I thoroughly recommend.' Read full review >
  • Neil Williams - 'A strangely unbalanced novel although the concluding chapters were very enjoyable.'  Read full review >


In Love and War by Alex Preston

Desperate to prove himself to his politician father, Esmond Lowndes is sent to Italy to forge ties between the British Union of Fascists and Mussolini's government. He is also escaping the disgrace of a scandalous love affair. In Florence, he discovers art and passion amongst eccentric expatriates and glamorous locals. But with the coming of war, he leaves his past behind and joins the Florentine resistance. He falls in love with a fellow freedom fighter and together they take on the malevolent Mario Carita, head of the Fascist secret police. Esmond is at the centre of assassination plots, shoot-outs and car chases, culminating in a final mission of extraordinary daring.

About the Author

Alex Preston

Alex Preston was born in 1979 and lives with his family in London. His first novel, This Bleeding City, was an international bestseller, won the Spear's and Edinburgh first book awards and was selected as one of Waterstones New Voices 2010. His second, The Revelations, was shortlisted for the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize. In Love and War is his third novel. Preston writes and reviews for GQ, the Observer and the New Statesman and appears regularly on BBC television and radio. He is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.

Click here to read the 'Ask the Author' feature on Alex Preston.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd July 2014


Alex Preston

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Faber & Faber Fiction an imprint of Faber & Faber




Romantic Fiction
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Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
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