Leo’s War written by Patricia Murphy, publisher Poolbeg Press, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format. The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.
To buy link (amazon UK): https://amzn.to/2MBOPhj
To buy link (Direct from Poolbeg Press): https://bit.ly/2BAJdjl
It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy. After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them. But he is no ordinary priest. Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line. Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews. But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?
I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Patricia Murphy’s latest novel: Leo’s War. The book is aimed for young adults but I think it sounds equally fascinating for adults too.
The author has kindly offered to share an extract with you all today:
In this extract from Chapter 4, Leo and his disabled younger sister Ruby escape at night to Rome to seek help from Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, after their mother is arrested as a member of the Resistance. Deep in the forest they bump into a group of young partisans led by Roberto, the older brother of a nasty classmate, who used to be an enthusiastic fascist. But after Mussolini joined Hitler in the ill-fated invasion of the Soviet Union, many Italian troops who were ill-equipped to deal with the Russian winter, deserted and joined the partisans on the side of the Allies. Many of these partisan groups were astonishingly brave, fighting the Germans with ill-assorted weapons and relying on their knowledge of the local terrain. Often too, they were little more than teenagers.
* * * * * * *
Halfway in, we came upon a tiny clearing where there
was a rough stone hut, the kind used by shepherds,
underneath a canopy of branches. But apart from the
remains of a recent fire, there was no sign of life. I wondered
if it would be a good place to have a little rest. But as I
hesitated there was a sudden whoosh in the trees. I sensed
a darkness closing in behind.
And then a shape dropped from the tree in front.
“Fermati! Basta!” Halt! That’s enough!
The donkey brayed and kicked up its legs. I lifted up my
Before me stood a youth by the slenderness of him,
dressed in ragged clothes with a cloth over his face. He had
a mass of black curly hair and his dark eyes bored into me.
He was cradling a rifle in his arms.
“Don’t hurt us!” I cried out in Italian.
But the youth tore off his kerchief and laughed.
“Englishman! What are you doing here?’
Ruby popped her head out of the cart, her hair covered
in straw. Two other equally ragged boys emerged out of the
trees and burst into laughter.
“Roberto!” I cried. He was the older brother of Filippo,
my sworn enemy. A Blackshirt. He joined up even though
he was too young and was sent to the Russian front. He
sang the songs in praise of Mussolini with such gusto I used
to think his lungs would burst. But he didn’t look like a
Blackshirt now. He was the opposite – the spit of a bandit.
I stood stock still, staring hard at him.
“We are partisans now fighting for freedom from
Mussolini!” he exclaimed proudly. “I am the leader of our
band. ‘Lucky’ they call me. Because I got us all back from the
Russian front.” He puffed out his chest with pride even
though his little band of fighters looked like ragamuffins or
the Lost Boys from the story Peter Pan that my mother used to
read. And there only seemed to be two of them. Some band!
“This is Carpo, our sharpshooter,” he said. “And cook.”
He nodded towards a skinny little boy of about fifteen
with tufts of blond hair peeking out of a cap. He wore a
rough burlap sack tied at the waist instead of a jacket and
his trousers were in flitters. On his feet were two left boots
with twine instead of laces. But at least he had shoes. The
other one, a tall skinny boy with glasses called Primo, had
pieces of leather on his feet tied with string like some
peasants wore. Roberto referred to him grandly as their
“Gigi is sleeping in the hut. She’s a refugee from the
south and she’s joined our partisan group,” he said,
swaggering as if he were a battle commander. “The rat we
roasted last night didn’t agree with her.”
While I gaped at this, the others laughed and Carpo
patted his belly, saying, “Yum, yum! More for us.”
I pushed the image of the rat out of my head and eyed
the group suspiciously. “I thought you loved Mussolini,” I
said to Roberto. “You beat me up when I sang that song
about him and you didn’t even know what it was about.”
“I knew it was disrespectful with those farting noises
you made at the end!” He laughed then. His face
brightened. “Sing it for us, eh?”
So I did! I puffed out my chest and sang at the top of my
“Oh Mussolini, what have you done?
You have a fat head like a baby’s bum,
You are the Duce but you’re just a fool,
Everyone knows you are Hitler’s tool!
Oh Mussolini, with your face like a bum,
If ever I see you, I’ll tell you you’re scum!
Then away I will run, run, run, run, run!
And one of these days you’ll be shot by a gun!”
They listened, grinning, and cheered when I translated
for them as best I could.
“You sing well for an Englishman,” the string-of-beans
boy, Primo, said.
Roberto looked around at his little band and smiled like
I was his long-lost brother. He winked at me and cuffed me
around the head. “You were right, Englishman! We have seen
what a mess he made of his lousy stinking army by following
those other German fatheads and we fight for Italy now!”
About the Author
Patricia Murphy is the bestselling author of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and Dan’s Diary – the War of Independence 1920-22 published by Poolbeg.
She has also written the prize-winning “The Chingles” trilogy of children’s Celtic fantasy novels. Patricia is also an award winning Producer/Director of documentaries including Children of Helen House, the BBC series on a children’s hospice and Born to Be Different Channel 4’s flagship series following children born with disabilities. Many of her groundbreaking programmes are about children’s rights and topics such as growing up in care, crime and the criminal justice system. She has also made a number of history programmes including Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson for Channel 4 and has produced and directed films for the Open University.
Patricia grew up in Dublin and is a graduate in English and History from Trinity College Dublin and of Journalism at Dublin City University. She now lives in Oxford with her husband and young daughter.
Social Media Links –
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Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Mollys-Diary-The-1916-Rising-277254289106782/
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