Monday, January 02, 2023

Book Review Tour & Giveaway: In the Shadow of the Apennines by Kimberly Sullivan

In The Shadow of The Apennines
Kimberly Sullivan

Women's fiction, contemporary & historical
Publisher: Kimberly Sullivan

Publication Date: October 13, 2022
Page count: 362 pages
ISBN-10: 1737729377 / ISBN-13: 978-1737729372

Publication Date: October 17, 2022
Page count: 340 pages



An American divorcĂ©e. 
An Italian shepherdess.
Separated by a century, united by common dreams


The sleepy little Abruzzo mountain town of Marsicano seems about as far as Samantha can flee from her failed marriage and disastrous university career. Eager for a fresh start, Samantha begins to set down roots in her Italian mountain hideaway.


At first, the mountain retreat appears idyllic, but an outsider’s clumsy attempts at breaking into the closed mountain community are quickly thwarted when the residents discover Samantha’s snarky blog ridiculing the town and its inhabitants.

Increasingly isolated in her mountain cottage, Samantha discovers the letters and diaries of Elena, a past tenant and a survivor of the 1915 Pescina earthquake. Despite the century that separates the two women, Samantha feels increasingly drawn into Elena’s life, and discovers startling parallels with her own.



Looking back to when I bought this house, I realize that I was bamboozled by the weather. I should have known better. A fool and her money are easily parted.
It was the kind of day real estate agents would trade their eyeteeth for. The air was still crisp, but the sun shone warmly, laden with promise for the long, lovely days beckoning just around the corner. Snow still capped the mountaintops, yet the grass was green and lush.
We approached a front yard, and I could see the wildflowers sprouting around the edges, forming sporadic beds of color against the imposing grey stone of the house.
Lost in my reveries, I forgot all about the agent beside me. She smiled as she switched off the engine. “Here we are. The lovely little cottage I told you about.”
“A drafty little money pit, to be sure,” said Tom from the backseat, a wide smile carefully plastered on his face as he spoke the words.
I started to regret having invited him along. Worried about understanding everything in Italian, and even more terrified about not understanding the local dialect, I’d asked Tom to join me on my house hunting. Now I was ready to strangle him.
To be fair, Tom had been honest from the outset about his lack of enthusiasm for my plans to purchase property in Abruzzo. He made those views abundantly clear on each house tour. Since the agent didn’t understand a word of English, he masked his caustic comments with a ridiculous smile. The routine was becoming old.
With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps I should have heeded Tom’s warnings. Back then, however, I was in no mood to entertain his negative thoughts. I summarily ignored Tom’s comments, instead concentrating my full attention on the little cottage from the passenger window. I unlocked the door and stepped out, breathing in the invigorating mountain air, the earthy smell of soil and grass freed from winter hibernation under thick layers of snow.

5 stars!

Absolutely riveting story! I read it from cover to cover in one sitting.

In The Shadow of the Apennines, the new novel by Kimberly Sullivan, is the wonderfully mesmerizing story of a woman coming to terms with her life and future as everything around her implodes. Samantha Burke Thorpe is a believable and sympathetic character who makes some understandable and human mistakes when her life goes off the rails.

This poor woman is hit with a double whammy; her professor husband of 24 years leaves her for one of his Ph.D. students, and she loses the job she loves all in the space of months. Either of these events would be devastating enough, and I ached for this woman. Samantha isn't weathering these blows from a position of power, either. She's pretty much subjugated her own dreams and personality to reflect her successful husband's glory, so there is an introspective look at her past and how she got to where she is as the novel opens. She has regrets and doubts and questions how things would have turned out if she'd made other choices in her life. Then the surprises start, and plot twists keep coming.
The story is that of two women, Samantha in the present day and Elena, a prior occupant of the cottage, at the start of World War I. Elena's story is revealed to Samantha through her discovery of Elena's journals. I loved the parallels between the two women's lives (and the similarities between their mothers' experiences.)  The details and tidbits of the area's history and time period were fascinating.
Set in the fictional village of Marsicano in the Apennine Mountains of Italy, you can almost breathe the mountain air, much like each newcomer to the area notes. The descriptions of the village, the mountains, and some of the locations Samantha visits had me wanting to plan a vacation right away. The story was even set at the same time of year when I was reading it (Christmas, winter), making it that much easier to visualize the locations. There are some great supporting characters, many of whom the main character alienates when she comes under the spell of social media success. 

With an exceptionally relatable main character, an exciting and compelling setting, and an absorbing dual timeline plot, I recommend IN THE SHADOW OF THE APENNINES to readers of contemporary and historical women's fiction. 


Kimberly Sullivan grew up in the suburbs of Boston and in Saratoga Springs, New York, although she now calls the Harlem neighborhood of New York City home when she’s back in the US.
She studied political science and history at Cornell University and earned her MBA, with a concentration in strategy and marketing, from Bocconi University in Milan.
Afflicted with a severe case of Wanderlust, she worked in journalism and government in the US, Czech Republic and Austria, before settling down in Rome, where she works in international development, and writes fiction any chance she gets.
She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and The Historical Novel Society and has published several short stories and three novels: Three Coins, Dark Blue Waves, and In The Shadow of The Apennines.
After years spent living in Italy with her Italian husband and sons, she’s fluent in speaking with her hands, and she loves setting her stories in her beautiful, adoptive country.

Kimberly Sullivan will be awarding a paperback copy of her book (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Kimberly said...

Thank you for hosting this tour, and sincere thanks for reading my story ... I'm so impressed you read it it one sitting. And thank you so much for this lovely review. I certainly do hope, as you mention, you'll put Abruzzo on your travel list. It is a region I love visiting, and I'm certain you would enjoy it, too. Thank you so much - and wishing you a great start to the new year!