Return to Valetto
Author: Dominic Smith
A Best Book of the Year ―BookPage
A Must-Read ―The New York Post and The Christian Science Monitor
“A story of love, loss, and the enduring power of hope. I was transfixed from page one.” ―Lara Prescott, New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets We Kept
From the bestselling author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Dominic Smith’s Return to Valetto tells of a nearly abandoned Italian village, the family that stayed, and long-buried secrets from World War II.
On a hilltop in Umbria sits Valetto. Once a thriving village that survived centuries of earthquakes and landslides and became a hub of resistance and refuge during World War II, it has since been nearly abandoned, as residents sought better lives elsewhere. Only ten remain, including the widows Serafino—three eccentric sisters and their steely centenarian mother—who live quietly in their medieval villa. Then their nephew and grandson, Hugh, a historian, returns.
But someone else has arrived before him, laying claim to the cottage where Hugh spent his childhood summers. The unwelcome guest is the captivating and no-nonsense Elisa Tomassi, who asserts that the family patriarch, Aldo Seraﬁno, a resistance fighter whom her own family harbored, gave the cottage to them in gratitude. But like so many threads of history, this revelation unravels a secret—a betrayal, a disappearance, and an unspeakable act of violence—that has affected Valetto across generations. Who will answer for the crimes of the past?
Dominic Smith’s Return to Valetto is a riveting journey into one family’s dark past, a page-turning excavation of the ruins of history, and a probing look at our commitment to justice in a fragile world. It is also a deeply human and transporting testament to the possibility of love and understanding across gaps of all kinds—even time.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux