A book that is better in its parts than in its whole, and more
significant for its urbane dissection of the Italian peasant, than
for its cohesive story. He shows him - in the character of Private
Angelo, with his talent for survival rather than combat, with his
passive, philosophic acceptance, his high hearted rather than stout
hearted conduct. The haphazard fortunes of war as he sees it shifts
him from Italian to German to English armies; his patron, the
Count, is taken by the Germans and liberated and both older man and
younger survive the changing occupation-first German, then British.
There's international imbroglio of amatory involvements. Angelo
marries Lucresia after she has given birth to a child by an English
soldier, and later he brings back from the wars widowed Annunziata
and her Polish child. It is a loosely constructed, good humored
tale, of no profound importance. (Kirkus Reviews)
Angelo, a private in Mussolini's 'ever-glorious' Italian army, may
possess the virtues of love and an engaging innocence but he lacks
the gift of courage. However, due to circumstances beyond his
control, he ends up fighting not only for Italy but also for the
British and German armies. With his patron the Count, the beautiful
Lucrezia, the charming Annunziata, and the delightful Major Telfer,
Angelo's fellow characters are drawn with humour, insight and
sympathy, making the book a wittily satirical comment on the
grossness and waste of war. Eric Linklater, who served with the
Black Watch in Italy in World War II, is one of Scotland's most
distinguished writers. In Private Angelo he has written a book
which demonstrates that honour is not solely the preserve of the
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