The Lights of Alborada

Gianni Riotta

A rousing historical adventure from the bestselling author of ‘Prince of the Clouds’.

As a boy, Nino Manes used to dash through the morning streets of his island fishing village to reach the church square before the first explosion of the Alborada, the fireworks that rang out over the bay to announce the dawning of a feast day.

Now, years later as an Italian prisoner of war in a Texan camp at the end of World War II, Nino receives a letter from his love Zita, and finds himself facing a race against time of a different kind. For Zita tells him she is going to marry professor Barbaroux, their maths teacher – and Nino has only forty days to get back to the island and put a stop to the wedding. Taking his life in his hands, he escapes from the camp, vowing to get home before the marriage can take place.

Idealistic and ambitious, Nino sets off on a breathless chase across the United States, and is soon joined on his odyssey by an enigmatic Lieutenant in the US Army, and a young prostitute. Together they face a series of extraordinary dangers, from wild forest animals to unexploded mines, and as their journey progresses, Nino finds himself assailed by doubts, questioning his own motives and those of the people around him.

At once a romantic adventure and a thrilling wartime escape story, with a colourful cast of characters, ‘The Lights of Alborada’ is also the story of a spiritual quest and a heartrending exercise in nostalgia.

Reviews of The Lights of Alborada

    • ‘Gianni Riotta is a born writer…His books are the stuff of contemporary life.’ Umberto Eco
    • ‘This is a classic American buddies-on-the-road scenario, but the perspective is startlingly different – we see it through the eyes of an enemy alien and his highly mysterious best friend. Unashamedly romantic and warm blooded.’ The Times
    • Praise for ‘Prince of the Clouds’:
    • ‘As romantic as Doctor Zhivago, as colourful as García Márquez, Gianni Riotta writes with the vigour of a lover and the crisp knowledge of an academic…If only historians wrote like Riotta.’ Observer
    • ‘A splendidly conceived entertainment delivered with style and wit.’ Independent
    • ‘An entertainment proper for the thinking person…it works for Umberto Eco, it works for Indiana Jones, and now it works for Riotta: the rip-roaring romance with the scholarly plot.’ New York Times
    • ‘An intelligent romance, beautifully set, of wide-ranging appeal, reminiscent of the film “Il Postino” and Louis de Bernieres’s “Captain Correlli’s Mandolin”.’ Publishers Weekly
    • ‘Even more enchanting than Louis de Bernieres’s “Captain Correlli’s Mandolin”, Riotta’s first novel to be translated into English is a revelation: as intoxicating as a glass of fine Italian wine served in a pavement cafe in Rome. Gentle, sensuous, scholarly and yet with an aching charm, it depicts a world where chivalry and honour are still possible, and the unlikeliest men can still be heroes…But Riotta’s novel is not just two love stories – it also contains one of the most thrilling battle sequences I’ve read in years, a fitting climax to a story so touching it fills my heart with pleasure just to write about it.’ Daily Mail