Like most of Eric Newby's writing, this book is excellent. It is his story after the Italian Armistice when POWs were released into the local area. More than anything the story he tells is of the generosity of the local Italians who assisted Newby, and other POWs, sheltering them, providing food and drink, assisting them in moving from place to place, always at great risk to themselves.
This memoir tells the story of his captivity, his escape and the subsequent period that he spent hiding in the inhospitable terrain around the village of Fontellanato.
This true story captures a time, a place and its people perfectly.
With the help of sympathetic locals, one of whom was later to become his wife, he spent a year in hiding, being recaptured only late in 1944. The lives of the peasants amongst whom Newby found shelter, high on the Pian dei Sotto, was very little changed from what it had been for hundreds of years, one imagines. When Newby returned some 12 years later, in 1956, he found that things had already changed dramatically: some of those he had known had died, some had moved away, and the focus of the area was turning from farming to tourism.
Eric Newby, at the tender age of 22 was an escaped POW and his account shows how truly generous and courageous ordinary Italians were to young British men. Despite their own difficulties in procuring food, and with the threat of execution if they were discovered harbouring POWs, they went to great lengths to look after Eric and others. He met his lovely wife during his escape.I slowed down at the end of the book because I didnt want it to end. But, read the book for yourselves and make up your own minds. Eric Newby has written several books.
Newby and his ill-fated team fail to destroy even an electricity pylon and narrowly escape only to miss their rendezvous, be plucked from the water by Sicilian fishermen and taken prisoners of war. A farmer, Signor Zanoni, is representative and he categorically refuses to allow Newby to sleep in his hayloft, which causes initial despair. One day Newby awakes on a mountain ridge to find himself being kicked by a German officer who is not for a moment taken in by Newby's claim to be a local.
Owing to his father's frequent financial crises and his own failure to pass algebra, Newby was taken away from school at sixteen and put to work as an office boy in the Dorland advertising agency on Regent Street, where he spent most of his time cycling around the office admiring the typists' legs.