|| Book Review || The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea ||
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age category: Adult
Release Date: April 2021
The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.
No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.
Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.
Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artist swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.
But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.
Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…
In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.
Thank you so much to Penguin Michael Joseph UK & Netgalley for the e-ARC of this book for review purposes.
What an absolutely beautiful story.
I was sucked into this book from the very first pages and I was actually amazed at how quickly I devoured this book.
I don’t read as much historical fiction as I used to these days and this book is a reminder of why I need to pick it up more often.
It was beautiful, tense, gripping, haunting. It’s the kind of story that breaks your heart and sticks with you for a long time afterwards.
Set in wartimes on the Orkney Islands a group of Italian prisoners of war are set to work on the almost deserted island of Selkie Holme.
The story is one of love, fear and survival.
It is a dark and dismal setting that really shows the horror of not only war and the condition and treatment of prisoners but also the mental anguish of twin sisters who just want to be free.
For Con, free from the fear, from her past trauma. Free to be happy.
For Dot, free to live and find love and also to protect her sister.
For Cesare to be free to go home, free to paint and create, live and love.
The inspiration for this story was taken from the true story of the building of Orkney Cathedral and it is written so beautifully and so powerfully that you just feel like you are right there with these characters. You feel what they feel, it’s a special thing.
Dot and Cesare are two lovers who’s paths might never have crossed but their hope, passion and love for each other was just so beautiful.
Con’s fear of men and for her sister as her relationship was blossoming was quite emotional too.
I love the way that the book was told from all three perspectives. It helped me to understand them all a lot better.
Con is traumatised, fearful of men and desperate to hide herself away from it all.
Dot is fiercely protective of her sister but she knows she is different and considers herself less naïve to the ways of men.
Cesare is just lovely. Artistic, talented, passionate.
I love that the characters were explored slowly and that the relationships were not rushed in anyway.
The story truly shows the very best and worst of human nature and I found it genuinely moving and a joy to read.