From the best-selling author of My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You and The Heroes' Welcome, Louisa Young's Devotion is a novel of family, love, race and politics set during the electric change of the 1930s.
Tom loves Nenna. Nenna loves her father. Her father loves Mussolini. Ideals and convictions are not always so clear in the murky years between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the second.
For Tom and Kitty Locke, children of the damaged WWI generation, visiting their cousin, Nenna, in Rome is pure joy. For their adoptive parents, Nadine and Riley, though, the ground is still shifting underfoot. Nobody knew in 1919 that the children they were bearing would be just ripe for the next war in 1939; nobody knew in 1935 the implications of an Italian Jewish family supporting Mussolini.
Meanwhile Peter Locke and Mabel Zachary have found each other again in London, itself a city reborn but riddled with its own intolerances. As the heat rises across Europe, voices grow louder, and everyone must brace once more to decide what should bring them together - and what must drive them apart.
Music composed by Robert Lockhart. Used by permission of Faber Music Ltd.
"Young possesses in abundance emotional conviction, pace and imaginative energy, and these qualities will draw readers with her through time and space, as she unfolds the story of the Lockes and Purefoys on their journey through the 20th century." ( Guardian)
"If you read one novel about the effects of the First World War this year, make it this one. It has brain with its brawn and deserves a hero's welcome." ( The Times)
"Powerful, sometimes shocking, boldly conceived, it fixes on war's lingering trauma to show how people adapt - or not - and is irradiated by anger and pity." ( The Sunday Times)
"A moving exploration of the war's toll on a generation...deeply affecting." ( Metro)
"A brilliant, passionate, intense examination of what it is to survive a war and to negotiate a peace with a body and mind that have been irrevocably altered." (Elizabeth Buchan)
"This novel is a triumph." (Elizabeth Jane Howard)
"Every once in a while comes a novel that generates its own success, simply by being loved." ( The Times)
"Birdsong for the new millennium." ( Tatler)
"[A] tender, elegiac novel. Others have been here before, of course, from Sebastian Faulks to Pat Barker, but Young belongs in their company." ( Mail on Sunday)
What listeners say about Devotion
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A root through history
I was so pleased to find a third instalment of the lives of these characters I've come to love (my dear, I wanted to tell you; the heroes' welcome), and this certainly doesn't disappoint. The tremors of war grow alongside the children's journey into maturity, and I found myself every bit as drawn in to the perfectly expressed internal lives of the characters as ever I have been in this series.
The concentration on the growth of Fascism in Italy I found very educational and stirring, and the use of chronological letter writing to tell the story kept me on tenterhooks throughout as the dangers steadily increased. (Reminded me a lot of the film, Life is Beautiful, in places. I've never seen Tea with Mussolini, partly because I've feared I wouldn't understand it: well, now I feel I have more grounding!)
Equally well wrought was the character of Mabel, I felt; certain passages about the indignities she faced and faces were striking counterpoints to Riley's feelings of otherness in previous installments. Brilliantly narrated by Eve Karpf (initially I missed Dan Stevens' narration because his is the only voice of Riley that sounds authentic, but this novel feels more like the women's story, so Eve's sympathetic intonations - and convincing Italian - felt very fitting): I will now seek out her other performances.
Another beautiful novel from Louisa Young, with an ambiguous but hopeful conclusion.
6 people found this helpful
- ali brighton
least good of the 3
the previous narrator was better. the author seemed to forget her own previous plots. nadine is stated as having no brother but didn't she meet riley when her brother knocked him into a pond with a snow ball in the first book??? disappointed.
3 people found this helpful
The third of the sequence and as fine as ever ! Louisa tackles a broader picture and triumphs, the young love is painfully accurate, the racism( or racialism) is so well described, anti-semitism is investigated microscopically and alarmingly. A wonderful piece of writing, Mrs Orris (Peter's mother) is such a minor character but written so beautifully , like admiring a miniature by an Old Master.
I almost felt I was living back then/there pre World War 2, I felt claustrophobic and trapped. I loved this book.
- Kay Fletcher
A moving family saga
I loved My Dearest, and then Heroes Return. It took a while to get into Devotion as I had so loved the characters in the first 2 novels and I had to adapt to Riley and co. taking a back seat. But as events in Italy began to follow their inevitable course I was drawn into this story, really felt for the characters. I have never read a family saga before, but I would love there to be a fourth in this series. The writing is subtle, perceptive and tender. The narration of this audio book is so good I forgot I was listening and remember the story now as if I read it and with the voices of the characters in my head, not the narrator.
- bryan hunt
Thank you Louisa!
A wonderful story of the tragic and unbalanced build up to World War 2 - of love, pain and real relationships.