War Serenade

An Epic WWII Love Story (audiobook)

Fiction - Audiobook
464 Pages
Reviewed on 09/27/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jill Wallace was born and bred in South Africa, and lived the second half of her life in America. She feels like the African baobab with roots that look like branches. Like the “Upside Down Tree” she no longer knows where the South African ends and the American begins.

In South Africa, Jill's love was dance, and she was a promotions director for large malls. An “international air hostess” for South African Airways, she enjoyed 6 continents and a thousand adventures. Jill married her dream man, Athol, a rugby player who makes her laugh. America beckoned with the promise of a career which never happened. Jill inherited her two, preteen heart-children full time. Together they found compromise, laughter and love.

In the U.S. Jill’s been a bad waitress and an excellent (but inconspicuous) movie extra for “Pretty Woman”'s director, and a realtor for 28 years. "War Serenade" the screenplay, was twice optioned for a movie. As her first novel, “War Serenade” garnered multiple literary awards, a Rone Award and Reader’s Choice for the audio book version.

"Zebra", a #1 New Release on Amazon, is inspired by Athol's life. It’s a searing, soaring, heart-breaking, heart-warming coming-of-age story about a friendship between a Zulu and a white boy in South Africa during apartheid.

As immigrants they’ve been humbled by poverty and blessed by kindness. Proud to be an American, her heart is strongly South African and her books will always reflect Jill’s plight as a baobab tree.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jennifer Donovan for Readers' Favorite

War Serenade by Jill Wallace is a touching love story between an Italian prisoner of war and a young woman in South Africa during World War II. Despite his low birth, Pietro was a famous opera singer in Italy before being conscripted into the Italian military. After his plane is shot down, he finds himself in a prisoner-of-war camp in South Africa. By chance, he meets Iris, a young woman working in the hospital, and both of them are struck by love at first sight. Iris aspires to be a costume designer in America and has been invited to work in Hollywood. Pietro is the enemy, and forming a relationship with him could cost her a future career and possibly even her life, but Iris can’t dismiss her attraction to the foreigner.

Based on a true story, War Serenade will renew your belief in love at first sight. If you have ever felt a connection with someone after just making eye contact or a brief touch of the hand, you will understand the depth of feeling of the characters. I found myself on edge, worried about their safety and the welfare of those who aided them. Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pietro and Iris will risk anything to be together. A lover of World War II fiction, I have never come across a book that was based in South Africa during the war. Readers of World War II novels will surely feel as invigorated as I did while reading about the period in a new setting.

Peter Noble narrates this audiobook, and his talents will lead the listener to believe that a full cast was employed to do the task. He skillfully reads in several dialects and languages, including South African, Italian, Zulu, and Afrikaans, even blending an Afrikaans influence into a South African dialect for some characters. His extensive travel and training have clearly rendered him a master of linguistics. Jill Wallace’s website reveals that her choice of the narrator was quite serendipitous; she later discovered that his mother trained at Cape Town University in opera under the man on whom Pietro’s character is based! The sound quality was superb and held its clarity even at accelerated listening speeds. I highly recommend experiencing War Serenade as an audiobook to be fully immersed in the story.