Before the house belongs to the owner, it first belongs to God and the guest. The Albanian Kanun.
Out of the Mountain’s Shadow is a brilliant book set in Albania and Italy. It’s the double story of an English woman called Ruth, intertwined with a story of Jewish refugees in Albania. Ruth was a newsreader but recently lost her job. She chose to go on a long holiday to the south of Italy to recover and rethink her choices. She meets an Albanian man, Zak, who shares a manuscript with her, telling the story of his father as a young boy during the war.
Rose Alexander, the author, has done a brilliant job in connecting the two stories. The stories move along in a beautiful rhythm, which I enjoyed. I struggle a lot with double storylines, as I lose the plot of where I am! This one gave me no trouble at all. It starts in Albania just before the war, setting the tone and backdrop of the little town of Durrësi on the Albanian coast. Chapter one brings us to Ruth, arriving for her holiday in Italy.
I love the descriptions in Out of the Mountain’s Shadows. The way Rose Alexander describes the beach, the people, the mountains in Albania. As you know, I don’t like endless descriptions, but this book has a great balance. I loved the research that has gone into the book about life in Albania during the war. Rose explains that she had no idea about Albania’s involvement with Jewish refugees. I didn’t either, so it was good to read about this. This is the main reason that I love historical novels. You learn a lot, without having to do all the hard work.
I liked Ruth, although she did get on my nerves a bit! I could easily imagine her though, especially as she visits the Accursed Mountains in Albania. I did feel sorry for her then (No spoilers, I always do my best to keep spoilers away!). I liked Zak a lot, although I worried a few times along with Ruth. Was he too good to be true? A few times I wondered if he was going to confirm the stereotypical things we hear about Albania. Especially when Ruth finds some things in the Mountains (No, of course, I’m not going to tell you what she found in the forest!).
I loved the ending of the book, it was so beautiful and poignant, and it feels like it opened a door for the next book! I hope there is a next book, there just has to be! The story pulls you into the characters lives in a wonderful way, and I found it impossible to put the book down. The fears and hopes in young Bekim, Zak’s father, the Jewish refugees and the bravery of Bekim’s uncle were so well written, I couldn’t take my eyes off the pages.
I received a free copy through Love Books Tours. I was under no obligation or pressure to write a favourable review. These views are my personal views.