Advance Praise for Our Darkest Night

I was so honored to receive these words of praise for Our Darkest Night from some of my favorite writers – read on for a sampling (no spoilers, I promise):

“With stunningly intense and intimate prose, Jennifer Robson shines a light on the lesser-known fate of Italian Jews during World War II. By weaving the stories of those who were persecuted with those who tried to save them, Robson has penned an extraordinary tale of family sacrifice, resilience, and love.” – Lynda Cohen Loigman, bestelling author of The Two-Family House and The Wartime Sisters

“Heartbreaking and heartfelt, Jennifer Robson’s new novel is her best yet. With powerful prose and vivid characters, this unflinching novel shows not only the horrors of war, but the unshakeable power of love against hate. A must read.” – Bryn Turnbull, bestselling author of The Woman Before Wallis

“A stunning work into which Jennifer Robson lovingly poured her heart. Our Darkest Night is filled with a message of hope that the world needs right now. A story that is both haunting and beautiful.” — Kaia Alderson, acclaimed author of Sisters in Arms.

“Jennifer Robson’s latest novel, Our Darkest  Night, is a hauntingly beautiful story of love and survival. The characters, and their journey through war and back to love and peace, will stay with the reader long after the final page has been turned. The story is rich with detail, the writing is moving and atmospheric.  I couldn’t put it down.” – Jeanne Mackin, acclaimed author of The Last Collection

“This novel is set during a brutal time in history, but Jennifer Robson’s superb storytelling balances heartrending events with hope and humanity for a moving story of courage, integrity, and love amidst danger. Impossible to put down, this is her best book yet.” – Janie Chang, bestselling author of The Library of Legends

“Jennifer Robson pens a tale of devastating simplicity and poignant sweetness, superbly grounded in the horrors of fascist Italy. A Jewish medical student escapes deportation by trading her native Venice for rural farm life, posing as the Catholic wife of a priest-in-training turned resistance fighter–but at what cost to her faith, her unwitting new family, and the man she is coming to love? Our Darkest Night is tense and touching, sure to delight Robson’s many fans and new readers alike.” – Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Huntress

“An engrossing and memorable story, Our Darkest Night is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, we must open the door to courage and hope. Jennifer Robson is a master storyteller who will sweep you away with this wartime tale of the importance of family and above all, the enduring power of love.” – Stephanie Marie Thornton, USA Today bestselling author of And They Called It Camelot

“A powerful, emotional, and unflinching story of love, sacrifice, and resilience during one of history’s darkest moments, Jennifer Robson’s Our Darkest Night is historical fiction at its finest. Robson’s beautiful prose evokes a visceral reaction as she creates memorable, extraordinary characters in a richly detailed setting that comes alive for the reader.” – Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

“Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson is a profoundly moving story of ordinary people who show extraordinary courage in their fight against the evil and devastation of World War II Italy. With nuanced characters and beautiful, evocative prose, Robson weaves a compelling tale of bravery, perseverance, and the immeasurable power of love in the face of adversity. Haunting and inspiring, heartbreaking and hopeful, this novel is unforgettable” – Kristin Beck, acclaimed author of Courage, My Love

“Our Darkest Night is a rich, atmospheric Italian journey of survival from an ancient city to the rustic countryside to the concentration camps. With poignant precision, Robson tugs at the heartstrings, demonstrating that the strength of family bonds goes well beyond blood in this beautiful tale of love, survival, and triumph.”  – Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

“Equal parts romantic and devastating, violent and tender, Robson’s latest held me in thrall from the first pages. Nico and Nina’s story movingly portrays our deepest humanity and darkest nightmares, and the world-changing power of the families we chose.” – Kerri Maher, author of The Kennedy Debutante and The Girl in White Gloves

Our Darkest Night is a January 2021 Indie Next Pick!

Our Darkest Night has been included on the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next list for January 2021! Only twenty new releases are chosen each month, all of them drawn from nominations submitted by independent booksellers across the United States. This is what Carolyn Roys of Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville, IL had to say about Our Darkest Night:

“This is a love story…until it isn’t. This is a war story…until it isn’t. This is a story about surviving the worst of humanity then finding humanity. Set in Italy, this is WWII fiction writing at its finest. Prepare it to be pulled into this heart-wrenching saga. So much for book clubs to discuss. So much for readers to enjoy. If you loved the depth of research in The Gown, you will love Our Darkest Night.”
My sincere thanks to Carolyn and her fellow booksellers for their support of my work – and for always going above and beyond for their customers!

Reviews of Our Darkest Night

It has been AN AGE since I updated the News section of this website, but I thought you might like to read some of the praise that Our Darkest Night has garnered in early reviews. I’ll be updating as more come in, but here are some highlights so far:

Publishers Weekly (starred review):

“Robson (The Gown) shines with this stellar WWII story. In 1942 Venice, Antonina Mazin, a young Jewish woman, aspires to be a doctor like her father, despite crackdowns by Mussolini’s government on the rights of Jews. As the political winds turn more ominous, Antonina’s father arranges for her to go into hiding in a remote village, masquerading as Nina, the Catholic wife of local farmer and former seminary student Niccolò Gerardi. While their relationship at first is only for show, the two fall in love while working for the Resistance. But when a Nazi officer discovers Nina’s true identity, their lives are placed in jeopardy. The brutal reality and atrocities of war are on full view with devastating clarity. Expert characterizations and perfect pacing are rounded out by lyrical prose (“She lay on her side, stricken, watching the last of the sun fade to nothing, and she waited for the stars to bloom”). This will break readers’ hearts.”

Shelf Awareness:

“As the Nazis’ hold tightens over occupied Italy, life becomes increasingly difficult for Jewish citizens. Antonina Mazin, the daughter of a doctor, is shocked to discover her father has made a plan for her safety: she will travel to the countryside with Nico Gerardi, a young Christian man, and pose as his wife. No one–even his family–must know the truth. Jennifer Robson weaves a rich, compelling story of danger, sacrifice and steadfast love in her sixth novel, Our Darkest Night.

Like so many people during wartime, Antonina finds her life changed in an instant: she must bid her father and her invalid mother goodbye, change her name to Nina Marzoli, and leave her beloved Venice behind. Robson vividly renders Nina’s fear and disorientation as she accompanies Nico to his family’s farm. Once there, she finds a warm welcome from his younger siblings and his widowed father, but his sister Rosa, who runs the household, greets her with suspicion and disdain. Gradually, Nina settles into her new life, learning how to do chores in the house and on the farm. She and Nico become friends, then find themselves falling in love, even as Nico’s work helping refugees escape takes him away from home for weeks at a time. But a local Nazi officer, a man who was once a seminary classmate of Nico, grows suspicious of Nina, and his investigations into Nina’s background may put the entire family in peril.

Robson has a gift for illuminating the struggles and hopes of ordinary people against a backdrop of life-changing events. Nina and the Gerardis listen to the war news with mingled fear and hope, but they also must tend to their daily duties: planting and harvesting, scrubbing floors, the never-ending piles of mending. As Nina settles into her new life, she also learns to stand up for herself, ignoring catty whispers in the village and even becoming friends with Rosa. Her unexpected but deep love for Nico and his family, and her newfound fortitude, help her to survive when her life takes a dangerous turn. Although Robson’s readers know the broad outcome of the war, Nina’s story contains multiple twists that will keep readers guessing as to how things will turn out for her.

Powerful, heartbreaking and full of wise, compassionate characters, Our Darkest Night is the story of a woman learning to fight for what–and whom–she loves in the face of great evil.” – Katie Noah Gibson for Shelf Awareness

 

 

 

A holiday recipe to share

2016-cookies

I’m a little late posting this Monday, because today I took some time off from writing and instead spent all day at my friend Jane’s house doing our Christmas baking. Together with two other friends (hi, Jane D and Denise!) we made nine different kinds of cookies (more than twenty dozen at a guess) and went through enough butter to make a cardiologist faint, but it’s only once a year and the cookies get shared between four families. That’s what I tell myself, anyway!

One cookie we didn’t make today (mainly because we ran out of time) was my chocolate and salted caramel thumbprint cookies. We made them last year and they were such a hit — chocolatey enough for the kids, but the salted caramel was a welcome change from the usual jam fillings. I think I may have to pull out my stand mixer tomorrow night and make up a batch!

I wish I could remember where I found this recipe — I think it may actually be a mash-up of recipes from Martha Stewart Living and Canadian Living. Feel free to sub in your own thumbprint cookie if you prefer — the caramel filling is delicious with plain vanilla cookies as well.

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Cookie ingredients:
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup plus 1 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
– 1 tsp kosher salt
– 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
– 1-1/3 cups white sugar
– 2 large egg yolks
– 2 tbsp whipping cream
– 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Salted caramel filling ingredients:
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1/4 cup light corn syrup
– 1/4 cup whipping cream
– 2 tbsp butter, softened
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 3/4 tsp flaked sea salt (such as Maldon or fleur de sel)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium, and add yolks, cream, and vanilla. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture until just combined.

Roll balls using 2 teaspoons dough for each. Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. With the handle of a wooden spoon, press gently in the center of each to create an indentation. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. (If indentations lose definition, press centers again.) Let cool slightly on baking sheets. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool.

Meanwhile, in saucepan, bring sugar and corn syrup to boil over medium-high heat; boil, without stirring but brushing down side of pan with pastry brush dipped in water, until dark amber in color, 4 minutes.

Stir in cream, butter, vanilla and 1/4 tsp of the flaked salt; cook until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Spoon into depression in each cookie; let stand until set, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining flaked salt. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to five days.