I think the author Chris Bohjalian wrote his latest book just for me! The title: “The Light in the Ruins”, published July 2013. It’s a story of war and murder, at once both historical fiction and a murder mystery that has its setting in Italy during the Second World War and the aftermath.

I say it was written for me because I was fortunate to tag along with my husband in September of 2012 to a conference in Florence, Italy, with a side adventure into Tuscany. In the book, place names, references to artwork, and more were familiar because of my trip. The book brought me back.

I’ve read Bohjalian before –“ Skeletons at the Feast.” That time Bohjalian took me across Europe, fleeing West ahead of Russian soldiers, racing for my life. The female heroine was Prussian, a citizen of the region where some of my husband’s ancestors were from. They had emigrated well before that time. Regardless, my knowledge of his family’s settlement in Prussia made the story very real to me. If his family had stayed, they might have had a similar frightening experience.

We are very lucky to have authors like Bohjalian who can transport us in place and time, who can help us to experience the terror of war, who can remind us that we do not want that kind of terror to occur anywhere in our world.

And in this month of November as we celebrate Veterans’ Day, we are reminded of the men and women past and present who have fought and who continue to fight to keep us safe and free — free to read, free to be.

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: