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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 31 December 2009
I have been an avid reader of a wide range of subjects from an early age but, history never being my strong point at school, historical works whether fact or fiction, have been sadly lacking in my repertoire - that is, until I was introduced to "The Italian Chapel" by Philip Paris. The powerful Prologue had me hooked and I immediately settled down for a most enjoyable read, relating the true story of the amazing achievements brought about by the hard work, determination and unshakeable beliefs of the Italian prisoners of war held at the camp on Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands during World War II. I had heard of the Italian Chapel and had even been to Orkney without paying it a visit as heretofore there was not much readworthy information easily available. That is no longer the case! Through his extensive research and dogged detective work, Philip Paris has managed to capture the mood and emotions of the men involved and has woven a delightful tale of their efforts, hopes, disappointments and successes against the wild background of the wind-blasted Orkney Islands and has skillfully blended historical fact with romantic fiction in a seamless fashion so that I could not put the book down until I had finished it. Whether your interest lies in history, geography, war tales, Scottish literature or historical romance, this extremely well-crafted book has much to satisfy - a cracking good read!
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on 3 May 2010
My Father had been a POW, first in Italy and then in Germany, and having recently re-read his, all too incomplete, diary I had an inkling on the deprivations of being a POW in those times but also of the tenacity of homo sapiens and their ability to forge lasting comradeship. Philip Parris has written a book which captures exactly the spirit of those captured in WW2, at least those in Europe. It does not seem to matter which side one was on the similarities are more real than the differences. The story touched the emotions and once picked up the book had to be finished sooner rather than later.We had visited Orkney but were, on that trip, unable to visit the Italian Chapel. We are now planning another visit during which the chapel WILL be visited.
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on 23 October 2009
This is my first review on Amazon. After reading The Italian Chapel I felt moved to share my thoughts with other readers. The book is highly recommended for two reasons: (1) it recalls a true story of hope, friendship and love - a story never told before; and (2) it is beautifully crafted into a real page turner. The book finishes with the author telling you which parts of the book are true and which are false, he also tells you the known story of the key characters' lives after WW2. Read the book and you will be moved to visit the Islands of Orkney - I was!
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on 24 December 2012
I visited Orkney over 10 yrs ago and saw this place as we were making our way back to the ferry after a lovely weeks holiday. We had a few hours spare and the rest is history as they say ! I have been in lots of churches and cathedrals but this has such a true feeling of what its all about. The book tells of how it came into being and the people involved.I read it in conjunction with my visitors handbook ( pics of the people aswell as the chapel). Its written as a story but seems so right and believable that Mr Parish must have been there ! I can recommend this book to anyone going or has been and I cant wait to return to see once again such craftsmenship ,knowing the history has been brought well and truly to life.Well done !
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VINE VOICEon 27 October 2013
I have heard of but never visited the Italian Chapel built by POWs 'imprisoned' on Lamb Holm in the Orkney's, so was very interested when I found a book had been written about it.
The Italians were sent to help Balfour Beattie build a giant causeway to protect our naval fleet in the north of Scotland.
One cannot imagine what it must have been like for these men, only a few of whom spoke any English. Most captured in north Africa and then being transported all the way to the north of Scotland.
Like all POWs there was a mixture of skills and talents among the men and one among them, Domenico Chiocchetti an artist, felt that having a proper place to pray and receive succour for the soul would be of great benefit to the men.
Paris's story, part fiction, part fact makes for an interesting read. The ingenuity of the men who undertook the task with little in the way of the necessary materials, the friendliness of both the islanders and the British soldiers in charge of the camp all add to a fascinating time in Orkneys history. And the fact that the people there very much wanted to preserve what was an amazing feat brought a tear to my eye.
A lovely little story
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on 11 October 2013
This book was hard to put down. The fact that it is based on fact, made it even more readable. I really enjoyed it, and have looked up pictures on the internet of the Italian Chapel, which I would love to visit one day.
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on 9 November 2013
An easy and enjoyable read based on great subject matter, though it didn't quite do it for me as a novel - rather superficial characters and lack of depth in the storyline.

In the end, a true historical account of the Italian POWs' lives on Orkney during WW2 might have suited me better as I knew nothing about this fascinating story before coming across this book.
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on 22 May 2014
I was kindly given 'The Italian Chapel' to read by Black and White Publishing. Originally published in 2009, it was recently republished on the 6th March 2014. Although fictional, this book is based on a true story. Philip Paris has also written 'Orkney’s Italian Chapel', which is non-fiction.

In January 1942 over 500 Italian prisoners of war arrived on the Orkney island of Lamb Holm. They were given the enormous task of building several causeways in order to protect the British Navy. To the men it felt like a life without much hope. They just wanted the war to end quickly so that they could go back to their families.

Then one day things started to change. Padre Giacomo arrived bringing with him some much needed hope for the future of the men, but especially for Domenico Chiocchetti who was a talented artist. Domenico had come up with the wonderful idea of building a chapel. In order to fulfil his dream he needed to convince the British to allow him to build it and this is where Padre Giacomo was a great help to him. No one knew the full extent of Domenico’s vision and they were left in awe at his creation. The building of the chapel brought many of the men together as they all wanted to help.

I thought this book was absolutely amazing, a truly fascinating story which has been well researched by the author. It is a part of history which everyone should know about. I really felt for the prisoners of war. Yes, they were treated very well in comparison to others but they were stuck there away from their loved ones, not knowing when or if they would ever see them again.

'The Italian Chapel' is a beautiful but heart-breaking love story and I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone. It will stay with me for a long time to come and I really hope to visit the Italian Chapel one day.
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on 5 August 2014
Orkney is one of the very few places in my home country that I haven't visited, and I have always been intrigued by the story of the Italian Chapel.This novelised version of it really caught me up in the characters, Italian prisoners of war, British military and Orcadians and how their relationships developed over the time they spent together. It is a clear example of how working together on a daily basis, particularly in difficult circumstances, breeds mutual respect and understanding and can overcome barriers of race, creed and political affiliations. It speaks volumes about the human spirit and like other reviewers, I hope to get there someday and see for myself the skill and ingenuity of men who, desperate to fulfil both an artistic urge and provide a spiritual oasis, created this amazing building.
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on 7 December 2014
Moving account of prisoners of war on a remote island, they're interaction with the local community and British officers. The passion, skills and artistry of the Italian prisoners was both moving and heroic, leaving a legacy of their time there. I have recommended this book to many friends who have been as moved as I was reading it. Obviously some parts are fictional but the main theme is a tale of the tragedy of war in its truest sense.
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