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Sigi and the Italian Girl
Stephen Hale, author
During one of Europe’s darkest hours, the brutal occupation of Fascist Italy in 1944-5, nineteen-year-old Siegfried 'Sigi' Brandt is stationed with the German army in the spectacularly remote village of Madonna del Bosco, far from the front line of battle. Sigi falls for alluring local beauty Tiziana, a descendant of witches. Secretive about her family's affiliations, wary of accusations of collaboration, Tiziana meets Sigi furtively in the old coven’s den up on the hillside. From the mountains, as she casts her seductive spell on the German boy, the Resistance threatens the tiny garrison and the villagers must make painful choices.
65 years later, Sigi's English grandson, single-dad Ben, abandons London with his five-year-old son to live the simple life in the same quaint village, now a hippy haven. Old Siegfried, aged and infirm, arrives from Hamburg to visit his family and to revisit his past. Whilst wooing his own Italian girl under sunny skies – feisty, childless, unhappily married Antonella – Ben unearths a disturbing secret about his grandfather's wartime romance.