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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 (252 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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Average Customer Ratings

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Can’t wait for the movie !

This was a great story. It held my attention from the first sentence to the last. Very interesting history and enough action and romance to keep a wide variety of people interested. All made better by the fact that it’s based on a real person’s life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Best story I have ever heard

This might just be my favourite book. I don't often think about the holocaust or WWII, but it is crazy to think that this story took place just 45 years before I was born. The amount of atrocities the main character had to witness at such a young age, it is mind boggling. I kept thinking the story was almost over, and then another set of events would happen and I would again think- how much can one person possible endure. I'm going to be thinking about this book for a long time. I highly recommend it to everyone.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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OUTSTANDING!

I couldn't stop listening.
Heartbreaking, fascinating, appalling.
This is a MUST READ.
Very much looking forward to the movie.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • G
  • 2020-01-10

Couldn’t stop listening

Loved the story and the performance. It was vivid and intriguing. Once you are hooked you won’t be able to stop listening until you hear how it all turns out. Brought to life what the war was like in Northern Italy. Unpredictable and heart wrenching.

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  • JMA
  • 2019-11-01

Another favourite

What an amazing and captivating story. The narration is perfection! I look forward to visiting Italy and finding these locations someday.

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Wow! What a story. And sad that it is a true one.

Half the time I forgot I was listening to a book. I felt like I was part of it and was emotionally affected to the point that it made me so sad I would have to stop listening. It was riveting! Will Damron's narration was so good I began looking for other books that he had narrated. He brought all the characters to life as if they were right in front of you. Very good story and very well delivered! Absolutely loved it! Was one of the best books I have ever downloaded from Audible. I highly recommend it!

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And it' s a true story!

Loved it. And the aftermath is as astounding as the story. Am I trying to entice you? You bet!

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Beneath a Scarlet Sky

I Loved this book. I couldn’t stop listening to it. War is such a tragedy and we must never forget all those who were effected by WWII. Will Damron did a good job at the narration.

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  • Chip Atkinson
  • Greensboro, NC, United States
  • 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.

328 of 341 people found this review helpful

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  • Bryan
  • kingwood, TX, United States
  • 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!

202 of 213 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!!!

98 of 104 people found this review helpful

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  • Regina
  • 2017-09-09

An Old Mans' Fantastic Recollections.

Any additional comments?

I was anxious to listen to this story...it was recommended by so many sites I follow. I felt let down. It was Forrest Gump does WWII in Italy. Compare this story to All The Light You Cannot See. or The Nightingale. or War Brides...the list goes on and on... It just doesn't compare. Narrator added nothing. The Anna story-line felt fabricated. It just never worked for me, none of the characters felt fleshed out...

9 of 9 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.

44 of 48 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.

52 of 57 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.

41 of 45 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 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.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Rick
  • 2019-12-19

Not as good as the reviews suggest.

This was a great story that should have written by a better author.
I don't expect masterful writing from every author, but the storytelling in this book is lackluster at best.
He takes scenes in the book and draws them out to unbearable lengths. Be prepared to listen to one such scene for an hour plus. You already know the MC has these feeling from reading/listening to the other parts up to the book. Yet, he drives this point home with a sledgehammer .-- kinda like I just did with this point, but even worse.
I honestly had to finally turn off the book for a day just to keep myself from shutting it off all together.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • ❤️ Cyndi Marie ❤️
  • 🎧 Audiobook Addicts 🎧
  • 2018-11-11

✫✫ 4 Stars ✫✫

Personally I found this story engaging and heartbreaking. I am not a history buff so this is just my feelings on a fictional story not the facts or if they are correct. The author explains in the beginning that while this is a story about a real man, he was unable to get all the facts so he filled them in and that is why this is fiction. For me, even the idea that 1/2 this book could be true breaks my heart. Pino's story is extraordinary to say the least. What I liked the most about this story is that it didn't end with the war, the author continues to tell us what happened with most of the main characters until their deaths, so I am not left with any questions.

I enjoyed the narrator very much, even if he didn't do accents but I think that is what I enjoyed. All too often narrators who add accents actually ruin the story for me unless the accent is believable so I would rather have no accents then have bad accents.
#HistoricalFiction #WWI #Tagsgiving #Sweepstakes

17 of 19 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.