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Beneath a Scarlet Sky

A Novel
Written by: Mark Sullivan
Narrated by: Will Damron
Length: 17 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (154 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager - obsessed with music, food, and girls - but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier - a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

©2017 Mark Sullivan (P)2017 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Wonderful

A fantastic, inspiring book. Well written, and--astoundingly--a true story. Even with it being a true story, you couldn't ask for a more interesting plot. It was a privilege to be able to hear Pino Lella's story, and Mark Sullivan wrote it beautifully.

My only caveat would be, that at times the romance portion could be a little cheesy, which distracted from the serious tone of the story.

This is my go-to recommendation when someone asks me for a book to read (or listen to).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great insight into the Italian Front

I really enjoyed learning about the unique characteristics of the war in Italy and the various factions of partisans, faceiots and allies.
Really interesting life insights as well

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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wonderful story of love amongst the dark night

very shocking to understand the trivial and yet unknown happenings of such cruelty of human behaviors.

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new war stories

very educational and enlightening. always like new perspectives. very tragic sadly as well. great for any war buffs

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Incredible. Emotional. Unbelievable.

The story of Pino Lella is incredible. My husband and I listened to this together. We are both Italian Canadians and we are touched by this tale and wish we heard it before we went to Milano 2 years ago. We can't wait to go back to Milan and visit the sites of this tale. It will be a much different trip. We are humbled and proud to be Italian. Both our grandfathers were part of the war in Italy and this makes us wonder how many other untold stories are our there.... RIP to all those who fought for life in WWII. I hope they make this into a movie or series....

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Amazing story of history

I feel like a part of history has been revealed to me. This book was hard to put down.

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I never give 5 stars...

Pino Lella. Seriously.
What an amazing, true, heartbreaking, horrible, wonderful story!
I loved this book!
If you love true stories that inspire you to care for others and live your best life then you should listen to this wonderful book!
#Audible1

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Great story

The storytelling was riveting. The performance was outstanding. The best book I have heard on Audible by far. #Audible1

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Loved it- a wonderful tale of a wartime hero.

Mark Sullivan weaves a wonderful story around this real life war hero. He enlightens us about the many heroic things that Pino did, and makes us think about the many other heroic deeds by others that have gone unrecognized. It took many unsung heroes like this to really win the last Great War. Thank you, Pino and thank you Mark for sharing his story. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

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This was an amazing story

I am in love with the young and valiant Pino. Could not stop listening to this book.

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  • Chip Atkinson
  • 2017-08-07

The Best Thing? It Really Happened!

Rarely in life do we learn of unknown men and women who lived extraordinary lives far bigger than any Hollywood creation. Pino Lella is such a man. This story is based on actual, documented events in WW2 a 17 -18 year old Pino experienced.

We are introduced to Pino in the last two years of WW2. As the author points out, little is written in fiction or non-fiction about the virtual German occupation of Italy. Politically the two countries were considered allies, but in reality it was the German Army controlling Itialian forces as well as political policies. Mussolini was under house arrest by 1944-45, guarded by Germans. The country may have looked Fascist to the world, but its peoples were deeply divided politically between Fascist, Nazi, Communist and Democratic Populists.

Pino was and remains an upbeat, confident and humble man. Like most people who lived and fought in WW2, he reluctantly shared his story after over 50 years silence. In the two years he was active, he led jewish families to Sweden, joined the Nazi army as a spy, and was the driver for the highest ranking General in Italy. He served as the General's interpreter to Mussolini, and actually met him on numerous occasions. Keep in mind Pino was 18 when war ended.

The story is as complicated as Italy's politics were at the time. In under two years, Lella falls in love, becomes a hero by risking his life to save several Jewish families, joins the German Army to be a spy, is forsaken as a traitor to his friends and family and suffers tremendous loss through it all.

The writing and narration is eloquent and seemless. This is one of the best books Audible has to offer.

290 of 302 people found this review helpful

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  • Bryan
  • 2017-05-10

History as good as fiction

Any additional comments?

I'm a daily listener to audiobooks while I commute. This book was SO good at captivating me and making mental images that it was almost too distracting to my driving!So in short, I dont write many reviews, but I LOVED this book...the story was great, the narrator was top-flight with excellent charachter portrayals, and the slice of life & time during WWII in N Italy satisfied the history buff in me. It really was as good or better than alot of fiction, but it was all true!

182 of 192 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeannie
  • 2017-06-01

Wow! This is a 10 star story!!!

This is one of the best books I've read or listened to, ever!!! I'm so thankful that such a gifted, talented writer took the time over 10 years to listen to and research this man's recounting of his life in Milan during World War II. Please take the time to read or listen to this book, in order to appreciate the heroism and sacrifice of this young man during the war. It makes me very sad, to think that without the persistence of this author, Pino could have died and his story never told! You'll never forget this book. Also, the narrator was the best!!!

87 of 92 people found this review helpful

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  • Julie Washnock
  • 2017-06-01

Heartbreaking but amazing story

What did you love best about Beneath a Scarlet Sky?

The author brought history and emotion together in a way that had me captivated from the first moment.

Who was your favorite character and why?

All of them, he did a great job developing all the characters into people I cared about. Regardless of how big or small their part was in the story.

41 of 44 people found this review helpful

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  • Sheila-La
  • 2017-05-03

Just wow. Thank you Mark Sullivan....

I rarely review, but this was such a different, human perspective of WW2 in Italy and showed so clearly, how murky options and people can be in real life. I will bear witness to Pino's story, and remember he and Anna always..great narration too.

37 of 41 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • 2017-06-18

Great idea, some weak spots, OK overall

What made the experience of listening to Beneath a Scarlet Sky the most enjoyable?

This was an amazing story. The book lapsed into trite sentimentality several times with invented conversations in an attempt to flesh out the facts of the story and make it more believable. NOT NECESSARY! This book went in wild swings from amazing with the actual true story to deep lows when the author tried to invent conversations and add personal romance and drama. Again, NOT NECESSARY and those invented moments became a bit of "you have to be kidding me" moments in an otherwise outstanding true story. The true facts were amazing.....the invented fictional parts were completely weak.

Have you listened to any of Will Damron’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Wonderful narrator. Would be delighted to listen to other books by him.

44 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • 2017-11-14

Dramatized true story of Pino Lella

Beneath the Scarlet Sky is set in northern Italy in and around Milan during WWII. It is a dramatized story of a young man named Pino Lella who was a hero of the fascist resistance. This interesting novel is well written and narrated. The story is excessively wordy and slow moving which I have decided to overlook due to its historical importance.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Alice
  • 2017-07-03

A Story to Stay in Your Heart

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If someone would love a great story, almost beyond belief, and a true life hero who emerged when the times demanded a hero, then I would say - read this book!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Beneath a Scarlet Sky?

There were many moment, some heartbreaking (as a WWII era story, one would expect it) but also hope in the midst of overwhelming odds.

Have you listened to any of Will Damron’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Excellent performer. As any regular to Audible knows, the greatest works are those whose performers make the stories come alive - they go beyond just saying the words and they create characters and action through their talents. They become artists of the spoken word. Mr. Damron's presentation is dynamic, his vocal tone is resonant so very pleasing to listen to for a length of a book, and his acting skills are clearly key to a successful story. He was spot on for this demanding, enriching story.

Who was the most memorable character of Beneath a Scarlet Sky and why?

The main character - the hero of course. But much of the book is very memorable due to characters involved.

Any additional comments?

True stories of people who go beyond what they might do and become heroes when heroes are needed is just what we need right now! This is not a light story - no story of war would be or should be - but it is alive. Very important history.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Gwendolyn Fairchild
  • 2017-05-30

Riveting unknown story

I continue to be fascinated and devastated by WWII stories. this is one of the best. I now want to visit the scenes in Milan.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • C. Liddiard
  • 2017-08-02

Disappointing

What did you like best about Beneath a Scarlet Sky? What did you like least?

I enjoy World War II stories, especially those heavily based on real persons and events, so I found the historical part of the story interesting. The positive reviews had me expecting much more than I got out of this story though. I should have read some of the 3-star reviews because I completely agree that the writing style is simplistic and the characters are not well developed. I got sick of being told how awesome Pino was instead of being allowed to figure it out on my own. The love story is sappy. I disagree with the book description that claims this story is on level with recent popular and well-written stories about WWII like "All the Light We Cannot See," "The Nightingale" "Unbroken" or "Boys in the Boat". I've read them all and even though this plot had so much potential, at times I was so weary of the writing that I couldn't wait to finish.

Would you recommend Beneath a Scarlet Sky to your friends? Why or why not?

My reader friends and family expect more than just a good plot. The writing style prohibits me from recommending it to others.

Did Will Damron do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

He was okay.

Could you see Beneath a Scarlet Sky being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

The story has potential for a good movie with a decent screen writer.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Beware Of The Reader
  • 2019-03-02

Dramatic, inspiring and heartbreaking story.<br />

This story is inspiring. I am in awe of Pino Lella's courage. A little starstruck too. I can't help but wonder how I would have acted if I had been in his shoes. This is a powerful true story that I encourage everyone to read or listen to. We have a duty to remember. High praise to Will Damon as his interpretation was stellar! He really brought the story to life!

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  • Cheerioh
  • 2018-10-07

Superbe histoire et très bien racontée

J'avoue être extrêmement lassée par toutes les histoires sur la seconde guerre mondiale. Mais là ça vaut tout de même le coup. On nous raconte l'histoire du jeune Pino Lalla et des Juifs qu'il a sauvés pendant la guerre et de son implication dans les derniers instants de la libération. Et c'est une histoire vraie romancée car ce jeune homme a eu une longue vie après ces événements.

Sans avoir été impliqué dans les moments les plus importants, son histoire est tellement bien écrite, narrée et ce jeune homme est si sympathique, lui et toute sa famille. C'est un homme ordinaire confronté à des situations peu ordinaires. Je comprends clairement le succès du roman et je pense que le fait que ce soit une histoire vraie est ce qui le rend profondément touchant depuis le départ de Milan, le travail à la Casa Lapina, son travail au service d'un général allemand. La violence est bien présente mais jamais utilisée pour attirer le chaland.