Genre

Historical Fiction / Romance / Young Adult

Audience

Young Adult

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2015

Themes

Natural disasters, Sicily, hospital, doctors, family, prayer, Medicine, Women in Medicine

 

Reviewed by

Tiffany Buck

In 1909, women are not expected to be physicians. But that is precisely what Lucy James is: Dr. Lucy James. Growing up, Lucy never cared about dresses and parties like most girls. Instead, she wanted to help people the way her father, Dr. Henry James, did. So, she studied hard and became a skilled surgeon. In this Historical Romance, Lucy and her father are in Rome just before the great earthquake of 1908 in Messina, Sicily. Desperately wanting to help, Lucy volunteers at a makeshift hospital. There’s only one problem: the town physician, Giovanni Castello, doesn’t want her there.  

“Welcome to hell, Miss James,” is the greeting Lucy receives from Dr. Giovanni Castello. From the looks of it, he is right. In a single night, nearly half the population of Messina has been killed. The tent hospital barely has supplies. A broken limb means amputation. Weeks of rain and aftershocks mean a continuous stream of patients. Lucy and Giovanni do all they can to aid the injured, the hungry, and the homeless of Messina. 

Gruesome and heart-breaking? Yes. Liz Galvano does a great job describing the gruesome aftermath of the Messina earthquake. The accomplishments of the doctors in this tough situation are nothing short of heroic. With each small accomplishment or failing¾depending on the day¾Lucy and Giovanni grow closer and closer. An ardent friendship built on respect and admiration turns into a beautiful romance with God at the center. 

Fortunately for the reader, the romance between Lucy and Giovanni is not confined to the tent hospital and the horrors of Messina. Galvano takes the two doctors to Giovanni’s ancestral home, Casa Bella. It is at Casa Bella that their romance really begins to blossom, with hope for a future. But just when the couple seem to have found their happily ever after, family drama and tragedy strike.   

Messina was an enjoyable read. I must admit, I did not know that much about the 1908 earthquake before reading this book. Galvano creates two well-rounded characters in Lucy and Giovanni. Lucy is a great role model for young women. She follows her heart and her dreams to become a surgeon. With her skills, she risks her life¾as well as being gossiped about¾to help others, all the while following God. Giovanni has been an atheist for years¾ much to the disappointment of his devout Catholic family. Lucy’s gentleness and devotion awaken something in Giovanni. He no longer wants to be the angry atheist he once was, but the Catholic gentleman he was raised to be.   

I recommend Messina to both Catholics and Protestants alike. Lucy is a devout Protestant, while Giovanni is a Catholic (a fact that deeply disturbs Lucy’s proud father, Dr. Henry James, but not the lovely couple). Their focus is on God and serving those in need: a message that is much needed today. 

How Sweet the Sound by Courtney Guest Kim

Annette makes all the wrong decisions for her love life—but through Grace finds true wisdom.

Saving Cinderella: What Feminists Get Wrong About Disney Princesses And How To Set It Right by Faith Moore

Love the Disney movies you grew up with but don’t know how to defend them in the face of the modern critics? This book is for you.

Finding Grace by Laura Pearl

Amidst the Free-love Women’s-lib culture of the 70’s how can one young girl find her path to sainthood?

A Bloody Habit by Eleanor Bourg Nicholson

An English lawyer runs afoul of necrotic vampires, and even worse things– Dominican Priests!

Lance and the Veil by Kevin Rush

She was Christ’s comforter, he, his executioner. Can the two find love in each other’s arms?

City of Shadows by Declan Finn

St. Tommy uncovers a group of elites using an ancient artifact to destroy London.

A Printer’s Choice by W.L. Patenaude

The first nation in space has sworn off religion, but now they need the help of Fr. McCellan to solve a murder and save them from religious terrorists.

2021 Summer Reading List for Preteens

Six series that are a must-have for your Preteen’s library ages 8-13

Sunrise on the Icewolf by Colleen Drippe

Helen grew up on a world ruled by women where showing interest in your father is taboo, but she will journey across planets to save him.

Crusader St. Tommy NYPD Book 5 By: Declan Finn

Detective Nolan embarks on a Crusade against demonic sex traffickers trying to raise a demon.

Where to begin with Dorothy L. Sayers?

A Detective novelist who believes in conscience, and in the reality of redemption.

Greater Treasures by Karina Fabian

Will Vern sacrifice the fate of two worlds for the life of his best friend?

Where to Begin with G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton will swoop down, carry you away, pour tonic down your throat and tickle you until you start to laugh

Announcing New Opportunities for Authors

We are now hosting giveaway drawings and new releases announcements. Get the word out about your book & reach out to us today.

The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt

A deep, honest story of emotional struggle, temptation, and sacrifice.

The King’s Prey by Susan Peek

When the king of Ireland goes insane, Princess Dymphna must embark on a harrowing journey to freedom.

Lord of the Rings & the Eucharist by Scott L. Smith

What do trees have to do with Bread & Wine?

Zeal & Zest: Where to Begin with Hillaire Belloc

Belloc was known as a Catholic polemicist with a vicious talent for skewering his opponents. Anyone struggling to persevere as a Christian in the fields of journalism or media should read him. His children’s books have an acerbic humor that will appeal to bored veterans of political correctness, especially teens.

Abolishing Abortion by Fr. Frank Pavone

An invaluable handbook for pro-life religious non-profits that want to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—without risking their tax-exempt status.

Sister Aloysius Says, “Pray, Pray, Pray.” By Linda Etchison Illustrated by Denise Plumlee-Tadlock

Sister Aloysius teaches children how to be active in their prayer life.