My Father’s House, by Joseph O’Connor. Europa Editions, New York, 2023.

Buried amongst the blank opening pages, an offset paragraph starts:

This is the last letter I will be able to write as I get shot today.

O’Conner’s historical novel, set in the context of fascist terrorism of 1943, Vatican City, is an intensely immersive story based on the life of Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish Catholic priest who led the Catholic resistance to Nazism. He worked to save nearly 7,000 Allied soldiers and Jews from the German Gestapo. He and his network distributed cash, created fake papers, hid people in forgotten places and hideouts, and created an Escape Line through occuped Rome to freedom in the west.

O’Conner’s wild turns of phrase and unexpected vocabulary choices brings a touch of formality to this text, keeping it slightly foreign even when the pacing had my heart racing.

A must read.