Hailed as Newby's 'masterpiece', ‘Love and War in the Apennines’ is the gripping real-life story of Newby's imprisonment and escape from an Italian prison camp during World War II.
After the Italian Armistice of 1943, Eric Newby escaped from the prison camp in which he'd been held for a year. He evaded the German army by hiding in the caves and forests of Fontanellato, in Italy's Po Valley. Against this picturesque backdrop, he was sheltered for three months by an informal network of Italian peasants, who fed, supported and nursed him, before his eventual recapture.
‘Love and War in the Apennines’ is Newby's tribute to the selfless and courageous people who were to be his saviours and companions during this troubled time and of their bleak and unchanging way of life. Of the cast of idiosyncratic characters, most notable was the beautiful local girl on a bike who would teach him the language, and eventually help him escape; two years later they were married and would spend the rest of their lives as co-adventurers. Part travelogue, part escape story and part romance, this is a mesmerising account of wisdom, courage, humour and adventure, and tells the story of the early life of a man who would become one of Britain's best-loved literary adventurers.
'His masterpiece' Spectator
'Superbly funny … as civilizing, generous and affecting as “Vivere in Pace”, and the men, women and children, weather and woodsmoke are as fresh as yesterday' Observer
'A vivid description of Italian village life, full of notable characters … and the reactions of one sensitive man to being out of the war in the middle of one' Daily Telegraph
'It is necessary to state with emphasis that this is a very good book indeed' Times Literary Supplement
'An exciting story, superbly told. And wisdom, courage and generosity illuminate it' Punch
About the author
Eric Newby was born in London in 1919. In 1938, he joined the four-masted Finnish barque Moshulu as an apprentice and sailed in the last Grain Race from Australia to Europe, by way of Cape Horn. During World War II, he served in the Black Watch and the Special Boat Section. In 1942, he was captured and remained a prisoner-of-war until 1945. He subsequently married the girl who helped him to escape, and for the next fifty years, his wife Wanda was at his side on many adventures. After the war, he worked in the fashion business and book publishing but always travelled on a grand scale, sometimes as the Travel Editor for the Observer. He was made CBE in 1994 and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Guild of Travel Writers in 2001. Eric Newby died in 2006.