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Return to Valetto

The beauty of Return to Valetto is the multitude of interesting topics encompassed within the narrative. The landscape around Umbria in Italy is extraordinary and has suffered many earthquakes and landslides to change its face. The history of the area and the resistance fighters during the second world war has its own place, while the personal stories bring the whole together.

Hugh is a historian who was raised in Valetto until his family moved to America. He has recently lost his wife and mother and has decided to return to his home town. He is a guest lecturer and will be giving some addresses at local universities. Hugh wishes to revisit his childhood home where his aunts and grandmother still live. His daughter is completing her studies at university but will visit him when his grandmother has her 100th birthday party.

This entire story is steeped in memories and tales from the past. Hugh discovers that his mother and her best friend went missing for 3 days when they were 10years old. The girls would never speak of what happened, but his mother was a deeply unhappy person who retreated into a room when her husband left.

Her story and the disappearance of Hugh’s grandfather during the war, gradually come to light. As an Historian, Hugh cannot help but inquire and question people which brings his family’s past into focus. The old stone cottage that was left to Hugh by his mother has been inhabited by a woman who claims it was gifted to her.

Beautifully written and haunting in its atmosphere, the reader can’t help but be drawn into the actions of families and the manner in which the past shapes the present so clearly.

Author Dominic Smith
Publisher Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781761067273
Distributor Allen & Unwin
Released March 2023