by Mark Morey
GENRE: Historical Fiction
This story is based around the life of one of the most fascinating and enigmatic sportsmen of his era, Achille Varzi: multiple race winner, twice Racing Champion of Italy and a hero to his many followers. Told partly through the eyes of Varzi and partly by fictional Italian-Australian racing journalist Paul Bassi, we follow the many triumphs and tragedies of Varzi's life: his passionate love affair with Ilse, his tragic morphine addiction, his recovery from his addictions, his marriage to Norma and his re-signing to race for Alfa Romeo.
Only war intervenes, and Paul and his wife Pia leave Achille to spy for the British at the naval base in
. Paul and Pia endure hundreds of Allied
air-raids, they join the partisans who fought off the German army until the
Allies could rescue them, and then they survive in a near-ruined city as best
they can. Naples
shattered but life is returning to normal, and no more normal is Achille Varzi
winning the Grand Prix of Italy that year.
Over the next two seasons Achille Varzi scores more successes, until he
makes his only ever driving mistake and is killed in Italy in 1948. Even though he died too young, Paul and Pia
know that Achille Varzi would never have lived in his life in any other way. Switzerland
I really loved this novel, the fictionalized story of one of the greatest drivers of the Italian automotive history. In my family are all fans of Formula One and big fans of Ferrari. On Sunday when there is the Grand Prix are all motionless to follow the races. This great driver unfortunately has been overshadowed by the presence of Nuvolari: almost everyone knows Nuvolari, Varzi much less, and it is a big shame because he was a great character.
Varzi was a Piedmontese driver, eternal friend and rival of Nuvolari. He was much loved by women, some threatened to ruin him forever. He eventually chose to share his life with his longtime girlfriend Norma. A tragic accident marked the end of his brilliant career.
This novel is really compelling, is excellent from the cover till the end. Wonderful idea to alternate the protagonist's point of view and that of a journalist who follows and tells his races. It made the story even more captivating and intriguing. The pace is fast, never boring, the dialogues are well built, the characters are amazing and believable. Excellent historical reconstruction of the period. The history of Varzi and his family is intertwined with the history of Italy and especially with the Second World War and the great tragedy of the Holocaust. I thank the author for making me better know a great Italian character of which I had only heard vague talk.
This novel is perfect for fans of Formula One but also for those who love a well-written romance. From the story of Varzi you can learn to never give up, fighting to achieve your dreams.
The porter nodded slowly. “My name is Ludwig Broder and I was a journalist once.”
“It’s the way of things.”
Paul wondered the way of what things, until he realised. He looked around and nobody was close. “Persecution?” Paul asked quietly.
Herr Broder nodded slowly.
“I’m sorry to hear about your misfortune, Herr Broder.”
“It was only a newspaper in
, but....” Koblenz
Paul was sure that persecution would get worse. “Should you leave?” Paul asked quietly.
“To where? My family has lived in this region for more than four generations.”
“If you leave, one day you can come back when it’s better.” Paul thought about options. “You speak good English. Go now, while you can.”
Herr Broder demurred.
“I was born and raised in
and I moved to
two years ago,” Paul said. “Because I
spoke Italian, Italy
became my home.” Italy
“Where are you staying Herr Bassi?”
“Hotel Ringhaus. We can take our luggage; it’s not far.”
Her Broder nodded and Paul opened his wallet and took out a twenty mark note. “Thank you for your trouble, Herr Broder.”
“Thank you,” Herr Broder said before placing the note in his pocket.
Paul picked up his case and bag and Pia, looking baffled, grabbed hers.
“One day it may be too late,” Paul said. “Goodbye and good luck.”
“Enjoy your racing Herr Bassi.”
Paul headed towards the hotel with Pia alongside.
“Che cosa?” Pia asked.
“He’s Jewish,” Paul said in Italian. “I told him to leave now, while he can.”
“People shouldn’t have to leave their country just because they’re Jewish.”
“If you were Jewish; what would you do?”
“I would leave.”
“He used to work for a newspaper, but as you know....”
“No public servants, no teachers, no writers, no academics, no journalists.”
“I’m sure it will get worse.”
Pia shrugged her shoulders and Paul wondered how much worse it could get. But he was sure it would get worse.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Writing technical documentation and advertising material formed a large part of my career for many decades. Writing a novel didn’t cross my mind until relatively recently, where the combination of too many years writing dry, technical documents and a visit to the local library where I couldn’t find a book that interested me led me consider a new pastime. Write a book. That book may never be published, but I felt my follow-up cross-cultural crime with romance hybrid set in
had more potential. So much
so that I wrote a sequel that took those characters on a journey to a very dark
Once those books were published by Club Lighthouse and garnered good reviews I wrote in a very different place and time. My two novels set in Victorian Britain were published by Wings ePress in July and August of 2014. These have been followed by a story set against the background of
involvement on the Western Front, published in August 2015. Australia 's
contribution to the battles on the Western Front and to ultimate victory is a story
not well known, but should be better known. Australia
Staying within the realm of historical fiction, one of the most successful sportsmen of the 1930s, Achille Varzi, lived a dramatic and tumultuous life. It is a wonder his story hasn't been told before, beyond non fiction written in Italian. The Last Great Race follows the highs and lows of Varzi's motor racing career, and stays in fascist
during the dark days of World War Two. Italy
When did you first start writing?
I have always liked reading good books, and about ten years ago I went to the local library to borrow a book, but I couldn't find one that interested me. Many books by male authors had stereotyped, cliche characters: typically the loner who eventually rights all wrongs but never finds love or companionship. I thought I could do better than that, which became the inspiration for my first novel, The Red Sun Will Come, which I wrote during the period 2005 to 2007. That and a sequel, Souls In Darkness, were published by Club Lighthouse in 2012. I had two more novels published in 2014 by Wings ePress: The Governess and the Stalker and Maidens in the Night. Last year I self-published One Hundred Days and this year I have The Last Great Race.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
At first when you start writing, the hardest thing is to stick with your idea and your concept. In those early days you never seem to get it right, and this is where the help of other people is invaluable. Once you've done the best you can then get other authors to look at it for their constructive criticisms, and pay a line editor to help you with story, pacing, grammar and use of language. The more eyes who look at those early works the better they will be, and you can carry lessons learned into future writing.
These days I find it easier to write, as long as I have a good concept and a theme to write towards. I always use beta readers to give my stories a final polish.
What authors have influenced your writing and life?
My favourite author is Paolo Coelho, but he has a unique style of storytelling and I haven't let that influence me. I have a few authors who I won't name, but who I don't like because of their one-dimensional characters and their lack of character relationships! I like stories with interesting characters, strong and sometimes fractious relationships, and a good plot. For me, characters are more interesting than a circuitous plot.
As far as influencing my life goes, I have suffered a number of difficulties over the years, from when I was quite young until now and ongoing. Those difficulties are many and varied, and have influenced my life for the better in many, significant ways. I learned to seize the moment, because we must all make the most of the time we have.
What else do you enjoy doing, when you're not writing?
I like travel and I have been fortunate enough to have travelled much over the years. When I travel I like to rent apartments to make the most of my time in other countries. This can be difficult when you're not used to local customs or perhaps can't speak the language, but the great experiences you enjoy far outweigh any difficulties.
I am also a keen motorcyclist and I own a Triumph motorcycle. I am a member of a motorcycle club for riders aged 40 and over, and we have many good motorcycle roads in the area of Australia where I live.
What are your dreams and plans for your future as a writer?
I'm staying in Italy with my writing while I work on a story set in 15th Century Venice, based on a major scandal which happened in 1428. That scandal is intertwined with sub-plots around the discrimination of gay men at the time, and the discrimination of women at the time. The sad thing is that even though I speak Italian, my source material is in Vèneto dialect, as will be any threads of conversations to give my story a sense of place and time. I have finished a first draft, which means there's a long way to go with this story.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Mark Morey will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.