One More Moon by Ralph Webster: A Book Review

One More Moon: Goodbye Mussolini! One Woman's Story of Fate and Survival
Author: Ralph Webster
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: 2018
Pages: 413
Source: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Goodreads Choice Nominee Ralph Webster tells the true story of his grandmother’s desperate journey from her life at the Pensione Alexandra in Naples to America - after Mussolini and the Fascists join with Hitler - and as countries across the world close their doors to Jewish refugees fleeing the spread of Nazi evil.

     In 1934, at age fifty-one, Elsa’s comfortable life in Mussolini’s Fascist Italy changes remarkably when she and her husband, Paul, purchase the Pensione Alexandria overlooking the Mediterranean in Naples. Though German Jews, they are embraced by their Italian neighbors, and for the next several years, the pensione flourishes and becomes their perch to observe the world’s events. Travelers from across Europe and America come to the door, each with their own story, mystery, or surprise. Nearly all have been touched in some way by the ominous changes occurring to the north, in Nazi-controlled Germany. 

     When war breaks out in Europe and Italy sides with Germany, Elsa and her family’s fears are quickly realized. The growing sense that the atrocities in German-occupied lands will soon occur in Italy forces them to give up their pensione and attempt a desperate journey to safety in America. The way seems impossible. Day by day, war makes travel increasingly difficult as countries begin closing their doors to refugees.

     Told in Elsa’s words and written by her grandson, One More Moon is the extraordinary story of a woman and her family’s often harrowing experiences in the years before and during World War II.

     My Review: In 1934, Elsa and her husband Paul have purchased the Pensione Alexandria that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. They believe that they will live a peaceful life and be financially secure. They are German Jews. However, they are making a living with the pensione. Visitors from all over tell them the story about what is happening in Nazi Germany. Suddenly, the war changes everything. Elsa and her family are forced to sell their beloved pensione and flee to America. Their route to freedom seems bleak because the countries are closing their doors to refugees. Thus, Elsa tells the tale of how she managed to survive.

  Even though this is a work of historical fiction, it is a true story of the life of the author’s grandmother. The novel is told in first person from her perspective. It starts with her buying the pensione at the age of fifty-one. Her future seems to be promising. She has great hopes when they purchase it. When she hears what is going on in Germany, she is angry. She believes that Jews should be treated fairly as the other Germans. However, she pushes her anger aside and focuses more on her work.

     It was not until Mussolini joined Hitler that they realized that they were living under a dictatorship with no freedom. They installed new laws that did not give any Jewish rights. Thus, they decided to emigrate. It was a difficult decision for Elsa, but she believed that it was for the children’s best interests. However, refuge seemed impossible. Elsa and her family had to keep searching for a place for refuge until they finally made it to America. Elsa was a strong character, who kept her determination especially when it seemed the odds were against her.

   Overall, One More Moon is the story of a woman’s quest for survival and freedom under Mussolini. These people had dreams, but the horror of war shattered their dreams. They were forced to make hard choices. The novel does have a few flaws. It is very repetitive and drawn out. There were a few time jumps that made it confusing as a reader. The novel also strays a bit from the plot. However, One More Moon gives the reader much detail about Hitler’s regime and life under Mussolini. Elsa’s life is a story of resilience and hope. One More Moon is an important novel to read. It is a stimulating book that will linger with you long after you have read the last page. This novel proves that Elsa’s story should be widely known.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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