Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book review: The Girl from Bologna, by Siobhan Daiko

12 July 2022

Book review: The Girl from Bologna, by Siobhan Daiko

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Bologna, Italy, 1944, and the streets are crawling with German soldiers. Nineteen-year-old Leila Venturi is shocked into joining the Resistance after her beloved best friend Rebecca, the daughter of a prominent Jewish businessman, is ruthlessly deported to a concentration camp. In February 1981, exchange student Rhiannon Hughes arrives in Bologna to study at the university. There, she rents a room from Leila, who is now middle-aged and infirm. Leila’s nephew, Gianluca, offers to show Rhiannon around but Leila warns her off him.

This is one of those books that draws you into the lives of compelling characters, and haunts your thoughts long after you reach the end. I knew little of Bologna, or what happened there during1944, but Siobhan Daiko uses the inspired device of a memoir in progress to take us back from the present day to explore past events.

I particularly liked the interplay between the main character, Leila Venturi, and her young guest, Rhiannon. Rhiannon's curiosity allows the story to emerge naturally, with the fascinating city of Bologna providing the unique historical context. Leila’s nephew, Gianluca, is also a well rounded character,  and forms the perfect link between the two women.

Anyone visiting Bologna after reading this book will have a deeper appreciation of the hardships faced, and the bravery of those who fought in the Italian resistance during WW2. Some of the most chilling scenes involved the Fascist regime, which pitched neighbours against each other, yet Siobhan Daiko uses these past traumas to explore their legacy for the present.

Highly recommended.

Tony Riches
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About the Author

Siobhan Daiko is a British historical fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese dog and a rescued cat. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK, Siobhan now spends her time indulging her love of writing and enjoying her life near Venice. Find out more at Siobhan's website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @siobhandaiko


  1. I am so glad you enjoyed The Girl from Bologna. Thank you so much for hosting today's tour stop.
    All the best,
    Mary Anne
    The Coffee Pot Book Club


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