Book Talk: The Children's Train: A Novel by Viola Ardone

“The Children’s Train is a sympathetic, well-crafted novel filled with vacation-worthy sights and authentic experiences from an Italy that balances folk tradition with modernity.”—New York Journal of Books

The BookWalker

“The innocence of childhood collides with the stark aftermath of war in this wrenching and ultimately redemptive tale of family, seemingly impossible choices, and the winding paths to destiny, which sometimes take us to places far beyond our imaginings.” – Lisa Wingate

"Ardone’s beautifully crafted story explores the meaning of identity and belonging...recommended to fans of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels."

The Library Journal

About the Book

Based on true events, a heartbreaking story of love, family, hope, and survival set in post-World War II Italy—written with the heart of Orphan Train and Before We Were Yours—about poor children from the south sent to live with families in the north to survive deprivation and the harsh winters. Though Mussolini and the fascists have been defeated, the war has devastated Italy, especially the south. Seven-year-old Amerigo lives with his mother Antonietta in Naples, surviving on odd jobs and his wits like the rest of the poor in his neighborhood. But one day, Amerigo learns that a train will take him away from the rubble-strewn streets of the city to spend the winter with a family in the north, where he will be safe and have warm clothes and food to eat.

Together with thousands of other southern children, Amerigo will cross the entire peninsula to a new life. Through his curious, innocent eyes, we see a nation rising from the ashes of war, reborn. As he comes to enjoy his new surroundings and the possibilities for a better future, Amerigo will make the heartbreaking choice to leave his mother and become a member of his adoptive family.

Amerigo’s journey is a moving story of memory, indelible bonds, artistry, and self-exploration, and a soaring examination of what family can truly mean. Ultimately Amerigo comes to understand that sometimes we must give up everything, even a mother's love, to find our destiny.

Reviews & What Readers Say

Ardone’s beautifully crafted story explores the meaning of identity and belonging...recommended to fans of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels."

Library Journal

“The novel is poignant, delicate, [and] profound.”

Bruno Elpis

“Amerigo's voice won me over. I devoured the pages of his story, because in his stories as a child there is so much lightheartedness and fear at the same time that one cannot help but love.”

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The Children's Train: A Novel by Viola Ardone


304 pages

ISBN 978-0062940506

Note: Now available. Click here

Viola Ardone was born in Naples in 1974. A high school Latin and Italian teacher, she holds a degree in literature and worked in academic publishing. She is the author of two previous novels in Italian, Le ricette del cuore in subuglio and Una revoluzzione sentimentale.

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