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The Devoted Paperback – 26 Jul 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Dancing Muse Press (26 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098482183X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984821839
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,899,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Hull is the bestselling author of Losing Julia and The Distance from Normandy. His third novel, The Devoted, will be published in July 2012.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Connecticut and Illinois, Hull joined TIME magazine after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley. Hull spent ten years as a correspondent at TIME, including three as the Jerusalem Bureau Chief. His reporting has ranged from the Gulf War and the Palestinian uprising to presidential politics and the troubled underside of American society. A cover story he wrote on youth violence won the Society of Professional Journalists' prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for magazine journalism.

A father of two, Hull lives in Sausalito, California.

Product Description

About the Author

Jonathan Hull spent ten years as an award-winning correspondent at Time magazine, including three as Jerusalem bureau chief. The best-selling author of Losing Julia and The Distance from Normandy, he lives in Sausalito, California.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Beautiful Return 2 Sept. 2012
By D. Jenkins - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Hull, after an all too long hiatus, is back with a beautiful new novel.

Reading "The Devoted" is somewhat akin to opening a series of boxes within boxes, opening each successive box revealing a new secret about the motivations of the main characters of the novel. The story of three families spans a period of five decades, from German occupied Italy in 1944 to Wyoming in the 1990s. The narrative moves back and forth between decades, a narrative style that works exceptionally well in this novel.

In Hull's previous novels he displayed a talent for describing war in gripping fashion. In this novel he describes life in occupied Italy during WWII with equal skill. Life goes on - work continues, children are raised, people fall in love. Occupation does not impose itself on every aspect of daily life, but the threat of instant and tragic violence is a constant reality. When the inevitable violence happens, nothing is ever the same again. Eventually the real shooting war must move into occupied areas, as armies advance and retreat. The lasting ramifications of the resulting chaos might not be realized for decades - and might likely affect those who were never original participants. That very real fact is one of the cores of this novel.

Some chapters are short little masterpieces - a single thought or concept, written in precise elegant prose. I loved these chapters.

I don't wish to give away much of the plot in this review. The reader needs to open each and every box. In the end, however, "The Devoted" is a novel about the redemptive quality of truth. The ending is ambiguous, which I think was the correct way to end the story. But my favorite character in the narrative, Pietro, quite possibly sees the future in the final paragraph...

Welcome back Mr. Hull.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A tale of restoration, full of sentimentality, modern flair and grand romance. 15 Oct. 2012
By Bookreporter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In THE DEVOTED, bestselling author Jonathan Hull builds a compelling, complicated and true-to-life novel that becomes something of a cross between old world romance and World War II historical. At the center of the tale is a middle-aged man named Ryan Brooks, an ordinary modern-day American in most respects, except that he lost his parents in a car accident as a child --- an event that nearly claimed his life and after which he felt compelled to hide his grief, having been raised by a peculiar aunt. Ryan escaped the accident with only a few burns because of the heroic efforts of a caring bystander who had himself sustained significant burns. Although the stranger tried numerous times, he was unable to save Ryan's parents that day, and has never really forgotten the fiery inferno nor forgiven himself for his failures.

Now in his 40s, Ryan realizes he'll never recover from the trauma of that loss but remains remarkably hopeful and positive in spite of that, saving some glimmer of hope for himself out of the (perhaps misguided) belief that he will one day get peace and answers. Over the years, his rescuer (Mike O'Donnell) had become somewhat of a father figure. Ryan's feelings for the old man continue to be appreciative but complicated, marked by some unexplained undying sense of gratitude, a shared connection through grief and post-traumatic stress, and a certain distance with which they both seem too comfortable.

Yet, where each is accustomed to sending the other a greeting card or letter every year, Mike one day fails to send the usual card on Ryan's birthday, cluing him in that something is very wrong. Phoning Mike's family, Ryan discovers the old man is on his death bed and declining quickly. This life-altering moment becomes the impetus for him to finally gather all his bravery and face the past full on, lowering Ryan's barriers long enough to break lifelong patterns and take the biggest possible risk: to say goodbye, comfort him and open up his heart.

While visiting Mike's family in Wyoming, however, Ryan meets the old man's charming wife Alessandra, an aging native Italian beauty whose charming character and interesting life story make the book an engrossing page-turner. Ryan is also quite taken with her lovely daughter, Shannon, a woman who is very much like her mother but, unfortunately, also is married (though unhappily so.) Naturally, everyone is excited to see Ryan, and he and Shannon become much closer than either intend to be. Together, they enjoy the blissful peace of a simple ranch life in picturesque Wyoming farm country, after which the two begin their own private spiritual journeys into a disturbing world where Mike's and Alessandra's family secrets are laid bare, agonizingly. In the process, readers get the opportunity to jump back in time to a war-torn Italy in Mussolini's age, in the years when German armies occupied Alessandra's hometown.

This book has some rare and beautiful gems and glimpses into a different type of war story than readers may encounter elsewhere, detailing (sometimes poetically) the nitty-gritty aspects of war along with subtle nuances of love. Even in 1940s Italy, love is in the air everywhere, and the darkest hours are lit by the most human of emotions. This simple, grand story is full of tragedy and passion, political upheaval and death, and moral conundrums that center on the dangers of painting any one people or nation or uniform in shades of pure black or white. Here and there, readers will encounter glimpses into the ordinary culture of the Italian villas of that era, so in a sense, the book is less a true war story and more a unique family drama -- made more charming by the vagaries and power of love and relationships, and bonds that make life worth living.

THE DEVOTED is a tale of restoration, full of sentimentality, modern flair and grand romance.

Reviewed by Melanie Smith
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Devoted to Hull 14 Sept. 2012
By Nancy H. Kirby - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the third book by Jonathan Hull I have read and it did not disappoint! He has a wonderful way with words and stories leaving the reader wanting more. He refuses the pat "happy ending" and keeps you wondering how it will all turn out for his exceptional characters. They are people you might very well know yourself. Well done!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
So glad to have Jonathan Hull back on his feet and writing again. 6 Sept. 2012
By Steve - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The emotional highs and lows of Jonathan Hull's characters remind us all of the loves we have won and lost ourselves, and bring out the memories we have buried of those that were (and are still) special to us today, even though they may not be the ones we share our lives with now.
Secrets 23 May 2013
By Sam Sattler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When it happened, Ryan Brooks thought it was the hands of God pulling him from the burning wreckage of the Brooks family car. Later, he knew that he had been saved by a Wyoming rancher - the same man who had to watch his parents burn to death because he could not do the same for them.

Now, thirty years after that horrible 1960 accident, and despite an exchange of birthday and Christmas cards during most of those years, Ryan has still not met the man who saved his life. And it is now or never because his rescuer is terminally ill - and has, at most, a few more weeks to live. Both men fear the painful memories that their meeting might reawaken, but they know that if it is ever going to happen, it has to be soon. What neither of them could have anticipated is how greatly Ryan's visit will impact lives other than theirs.

Ryan, unsure how to handle the visit, and struggling to say everything he feels, is so welcomed into the O'Donnell home by Alessandra, Mike's wife, that he grows more confident by the hour. Too, it doesn't hurt that Mike's pretty daughter, Shannon, has come home to be with her father during his final days. But the longer Ryan stays in Wyoming, the more complicated things become.

The Devoted is a story filled with surprises, surprises that are revealed one-by-one until the reader's (and Ryan's) initial assumptions about the accident, Mike, Alessandra, and Shannon are largely proven wrong. The O'Donnells are a family with lots of secrets - secrets that they have kept even from each other for decades. Shannon's parents brought secrets into their marriage that go all the way back to World War II Italy where Alessandra had a passionate love affair with a German soldier who was part of the group that occupied her tiny village. Now might be the last chance to finally share those secrets with each other and Ryan. But the real question is whether any of them will emotionally survive the revelations.

Bottom Line: The Devoted is a good story and Jonathan Hull tells it well. Fans of historical fiction and readers who like romantic literary fiction will particularly enjoy this one. Too, World War II history buffs are sure to appreciate Hull's version of life on the Italian home front for those Italians not pleased to be allied with Adolph Hitler.
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