Under a Sardinian Sky

by Sara Alexander

Set against the beautiful backdrop of post-World War II Sardinia, Sara Alexander’s evocative novel is a sweeping story of star-crossed romance between an American lieutenant and a local girl.

Sometimes a family’s deepest silences hide the most important secrets. For Mina, a London-based travel writer, the enigmatic silence surrounding her aunt Carmela has become a personal obsession. Carmela disappeared from her Italian hometown long ago and is mentioned only in fragments and whispers. Mina has resisted prying, respectful of her family’s Sardinian reserve. But now, with her mother battling cancer, it’s time to learn the truth.

In 1952, Simius is a busy Sardinian town surrounded by fertile farms and orchards. Carmela Chirigoni, a farmer’s daughter and talented seamstress, is engaged to Franco, son of the area’s wealthiest family. Everyone agrees it’s a good match. But Carmela’s growing doubts about Franco’s possessiveness are magnified when she meets Captain Joe Kavanagh. Joe, an American officer stationed at a local army base, is charismatic, intelligent, and married. Hired as his interpreter, Carmela resolves to ignore her feelings, knowing that any future together must bring upheaval and heartache to both families.

As Mina follows the threads of Carmela’s life to uncover her fate, she will discover a past still deeply alive in the present, revealing a story of hope, sacrifice, and extraordinary love.

Four Hundred and Forty Steps to the Sea

by Sara Alexander

Nestled into the cliffs in southern Italy’s Amalfi coast, Positano is an artist’s vision, with rows of brightly hued houses perched above the sea and picturesque staircases meandering up and down the hillside. Santina, still a striking woman despite old age and the illness that saps her last strength, is spending her final days at her home, Villa San Vito. The magnificent eighteenth-century palazzo is very different from the tiny house in which she grew up. And as she decides its fate, she must confront the choices that led her here so long ago . . .

In 1949, Positano is as yet undiscovered by tourists, a beautiful, secluded village shaking off the dust of war. Hoping to escape poverty, young Santina takes domestic work in London, ultimately becoming a housekeeper to a distinguished British major and his creative, impulsive wife, Adeline. When they move to Positano, Santina returns with them, raising their daughter as Adeline’s mental health declines. With each passing year, Santina becomes more deeply enmeshed within the family, trying to navigate her complicated feelings for a man who is much more than an employer—while hiding secrets that could shatter the only home she knows.

Where Did They Film That? Italy: Famous Film Scenes and Their Italian Locations

by Romina Arena

“Three Coins in a Fountain.” “Roman Holiday.” “The Bicycle Thief.” In many of the greatest movies ever made, the biggest star was Italy itself. Where Did They Film That?: Italy is a unique travel guide that invites the reader to explore the beauty and cultural riches of Italy through the universal language of cinema, showing readers how to find the exact locations where many of the most famous movies set in Italy were filmed — plus nearby attractions, museums, restaurants, shops, and must-experience slices of Italian life. The beautiful and historic sites immortalized in great films are the reader’s keys to experiencing the best in Italian travel, art, dining, and living. In addition, this book gives readers in-depth knowledge of the behind-the-scenes details of great films by placing their locations within the full context of their history and meaning to Italian culture. An irresistible combination of film history, travel guide, and the zest and seductiveness of la dolce vita, Where Did They Film That?: Italy is a new kind of travel guide that will turn Americans’ love of movies into a love of travel and new experiences.

San Marco, Byzantium, and the Myths of Venice

by Henry Maguire and Robert S. Nelson

The church of San Marco of Venice has long played a central role in Venetian political, ceremonial, and religious life. Its renowned assemblage of mosaics, sculpture, metalwork, and reliquaries are, in origin, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, or Venetian imitation of Byzantine designs. In San Marco, Byzantium, and the Myths of Venice, the authors assess the significance of the embellishment of the church and its immediate surroundings, especially during the 13th and 14th centuries, when most of the Byzantine material was acquired, largely from Constantinople. The church and its decoration are studied in relation to Venice’s interests abroad and on mainland Italy. The authors address the diverse styles, sources, meanings, and significance of this art, both individually and as an ensemble. Building upon developments in scholarship since Otto Demus’s masterly studies of the church, the book offers new insights into the inspiration, purposes, and mutability of San Marco and the myths that inspired and motivated Venetians.

The Ides of March: A Novel

by Thornton Wilder

In this inventive narrative, the Caesar of history becomes Caesar the human being. The Ides of March, first published in 1948, is a brilliant epistolary novel set in Julius Caesar’s Rome. Thornton Wilder called it “a fantasia on certain events and persons of the last days of the Roman republic.” Wilder also resurrects the controversial figures surrounding Caesar — Cleopatra, Catullus, Cicero, and others. All Rome comes crowding through these pages — the Rome of villas and slums, beautiful women and brawling youths, spies and assassins. Through vividly imagined letters and documents, Wilder brings to life a dramatic period of world history and one of history’s most magnetic, elusive personalities.

 

Pontifex Maximus

by Christopher Lascelles

This book, aimed at the general reader who is short on time and seeks an accessible overview, tells the history of the popes — one occasionally so bizarre as to stretch credulity. Popes have led papal armies, fled in disguise, fathered children (including future popes), and authorized torture. They have been captured, assaulted and murdered. While many have been admired, some have been hated to such a degree that their funeral processions have been disrupted and statues of them torn down after their deaths. Many have been the enemies of freedom and progress – divisive rather than unifying figures. In a fascinating read for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, Christopher Lascelles examines the history of the popes through the ages, laying bare the extent to which many of them fell so very short of the Christian ideals they supposedly represented. He explains how it was that, professing to follow a man who said ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ and ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,’ they nevertheless became heads of a rich state that owned more land in Europe than any king, relying on foreign military aid to keep power; and how pride, greed and corruption became commonplace in an institution founded on love, faith and forgiveness.

 

Hero of Rome: (Gaius Valerius Verrens 1)

by Douglas Jackson

The first book in an action-packed and rigorously researched new Roman historical series by the acclaimed author of Caligula and Claudius.

The Roman grip on Britain is weakening. Emperor Nero has turned his face away from this far-flung outpost. The Druids are on the rise, spreading seeds of rebellion among the British tribes. Roman cruelty and exploitation has angered their British subjects. The warrior queen Boudicca will lead the tribes to war.  Standing against the rising tide of Boudicca’s rebellion is Roman Tribune, Gaius Valerius Verrens, Commander of the veteran legions at Colonia. Valerius leads the veterans in a last stand against the unstoppable horde of Boudicca’s rebel army. Step by step, the bloodied survivors are forced back into the Temple of Claudius. It is here that Valerius wins lifelong fame and the accolade Hero of Rome.

Douglas Jackson turned a lifelong fascination for Rome and the Romans into his first two novels, Caligula and Claudius. He was born in Jedburgh, in the Scottish Borders and now lives in Bridge of Allan. Hero of Rome is the first novel in a major new Roman historical action series.

Defender of Rome: (Gaius Valerius Verrens 2)

by Douglas Jackson

Gaius Valerius Verrens returns to Rome from the successful campaign against Boudicca in Britain. Now hailed a ‘Hero of Rome’, Valerius is not the man he once was – scarred both physically and emotionally by the battles he has fought, with his sister mortally ill and his father in self-imposed exile. And neither is Rome the same city as the one he left. The Emperor Nero grows increasingly paranoid. Those who seek power for themselves whisper darkly in the emperor’s ears. They speak of a new threat, one found within the walls of Rome itself. A new religious sect, the followers of Christus, deny Nero’s divinity and are rumored to be spreading sedition. Nero calls on his ‘Hero of Rome’ to become a ‘Defender of Rome’, to seek out this rebel sect, to capture their leader, a man known as Petrus. Failure would be to forfeit his life, and the lives of twenty thousands Judaeans living in Rome. But as Valerius begins his search, a quest which will take him to the edge of the empire, he will discover that success may cost him nearly as much as failure.

Avenger of Rome: (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3)

by Douglas Jackson

Emperor Nero’s grip on power is weakening. In every shadow he sees an enemy and like a cornered animal he lashes out at every perceived threat. His paranoia settles on the figure of Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, Rome’s greatest General, who leads the imperial legions in the East. So popular is Corbulo with his men that he effectively presides over an Empire within an Empire. Is Corbulo preparing to march against Rome and take the purple? Gaius Valerius Verrens, Hero of Rome, is ordered to Antioch with the power of life and death over Corbulo, a soldier he worships. There he finds word of his mission has preceded him and every man’s hand is turned against him. But Corbulo’s eyes are not on Rome, they’re on a new threat to the Empire’s border. The Parthian King of Kings, Vologases, is marching to war and with such an army, if he’s not stopped he might overwhelm the entire Roman east. Valerius marches at Corbulo’s side. Outnumbered, they make a stand in the barren wastes beyond the Tigris to meet Vologases in an epic contest of military might and ingenuity that will decide the fate of the Empire. And while he fights for the Empire, and for his own survival on the battlefield, Valerius must decide whether to complete his mission, or risk incurring his Emperor’s dangerous wrath.

Sword of Rome: (Gaius Valerius Verrens 4)

by Douglas Jackson

68AD. The Emperor Nero’s erratic and bloody reign is in its death throes when Gaius Valerius Verrens is dispatched to Rome on a mission that will bring it to a close. With Nero dead, the city holds its breath and awaits the arrival of his successor, Servius Sulpicius Galba, governor of Hispania. The Empire prays for peace, but it prays in vain. Although Galba promises stability and prosperity, his rule begins with a massacre and ends only months later in chaos and carnage. This will become known as the Year of the Four Emperors, a time of civil war which will tear Rome apart and test Valerius’s skills and loyalties to their very limit. Fortunate to survive Galba’s fall, Valerius is sent on a mission by Rome’s new Emperor, Otho, to his old friend Vitellius, commander of the armies of the north. Vitellius’s legions are on the march, and only Valerius can persuade him to halt them before the inevitable confrontation. In an epic adventure that will take him the length and breadth of a divided land, the one-armed Roman fights to stay alive and stave off a bloodbath as he is stalked by the most implacable enemy he has ever faced.

Enemy of Rome: (Gaius Valerius Verrens 5)

by Douglas Jackson

Summer, AD 69. Rome and its empire are in turmoil, caught in the coils of a desperate and destructive civil war.  The emperor Otho is dead by his own hand and his rival, Aulus Vitellius, occupies the imperial throne. However, a new challenge has arisen in the East – the legions of Titus Flavius Vespasian have declared him their Emperor. In the dry heat of an August morning, Gaius Valerius Verrens prepares for his last day on earth. Wrongly accused of deserting his legion on the field of Bedriacum, it seems he is destined to die a coward’s death. Then the executioner’s hand is stayed. Vitellius’ enemies will spare the life of the man who was once Hero of Rome if he pledges allegiance to Vespasian and his cause. Valerius – tired of the endless slaughter and hoping that he might be reunited with his lost love – agrees. And so he must battle his way south to Rome in order to persuade his friend Vitellius to stand down for the greater good of the city, its people and the Empire. But this is civil war and this is Rome, and Valerius – his loyalties divided and branded an enemy of the people – is trapped in a maze of distrust, corruption, betrayal and blood-letting.