War in Val d'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944 (Paperback)
NYRB Classics has recently brought the two volumes of Iris Origo’s Italian War Diary (A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary 1939-1940 and War in Val D'Orcia: An Italian War Diary 1943-1944) back into print. An Englishwoman living in Italy under fascism, Origo writes about the run up to World War II and life during wartime (under both fascist and Nazi rule) with immediacy, directness, and humor that bring her experience to life. She writes of sheltering POWs and refugees as if not doing so could never be an option. Well worth reading, in these times especially.— From NYRB
A bestseller upon its original publication in the 1980s, these diaries reveal life during WWII in Tuscany and include stunning rediscovered photographs
In the Second World War, Italy was torn apart by German armies, civil war, and the Allied invasion. In a corner of Tuscany, one woman—born in England, married to an Italian—kept a record of daily life in a country at war. Iris Origo’s powerful diary, War in Val d’Orcia, is the spare and vivid account of what happened when a peaceful farming valley became a battleground.
At great personal risk, the Origos gave food and shelter to partisans, deserters, and refugees. They took in evacuees, and as the front drew closer they faced the knowledge that the lives of thirty-two small children depended on them. Origo writes with sensitivity and generosity, and a story emerges of human acts of heroism and compassion, and the devastation that war can bring.
About the Author
Iris Origo (1902–1988) was a British-born biographer and writer. She lived in Italy and devoted much of her life to the improvement of the Tuscan estate at La Foce, which she purchased with her husband in the 1920s. During the Second World War, she sheltered refugee children and assisted many escaped Allied prisoners of war and partisans in defiance of Italy’s fascist regime and Nazi occupation forces. She is the author of Images and Shadows; A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary,
1939–1940; Leopardi: A Study in Solitude; and The Merchant of Prato, among others.
Virginia Nicholson is a social historian and writer known for her works on women’s history. She is the the author of five books, including Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900–1939, and most recently, Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes: The Story of Women in the 1950s.
"Origo’s diary is a compelling story of heroism, compassion, and—in the author’s words—‘the most primitive traditions of ungrudging hospitality, uncalculating brotherhood...the shared, simple acts of everyday life." —Vic Sussman, The Washington Post
"[War in Val d’Orcia] is a remarkably moving document that, like the best of the elemental war stories, eventually becomes a statement about the unplanned nature and folly of war." —Herbert Mitgang, The New York Times
"A welcome rediscovery, evoking a unique, strange moment in civilian/soldier wartime-history with spare, vital immediacy." —Kirkus Reviews
"A remarkable war diary." —Daily Telegraph
"It is jolting to recall, through Origo’s sober and self-effacing prose, the atrocious conditions of the summer of 1944." —Financial Times