Set in the Second World War and its aftermath, Sian Melangell Dafydd’s long-awaited second novel brings alive the story of Italian prisoners-of-war who were sent to work on farms in north Wales. Drawing on her own family’s memories of the Italians who came to her grandparents’ farm, she lets the fictional Guido tell his own tale. Continuing the prisoners’ tradition of meeting to exchange the stories which were their only possessions, Guido traces the complex thread of his narrative back and forth across the fabric of his memories, from the Italians’ experiences in the north African desert and the crammed ship bringing them to Britain, then adjusting to life in a POW camp and eventually on the farms which became their new homes. With one memory awakening another, he recalls the surprise of finding himself part of a family speaking Welsh as well as English, of encounters with prejudice as well as unexpected kindness and lifelong friendship.
With its conversational immediacy and rich blend of language, Filò gives lyrical voice to the prisoners’ thoughts and feelings. Their close camaraderie may dissipate as they are gradually dispersed, but the connecting threads will remain, as Guido weaves his comrades’ stories into his own.
'After reading this novel, I felt better in my soul. It is a beautiful novel: beautiful in its style, and even more beautiful in its love of humanity.'