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a fantastical account of the human spirit in times of war
on 17 April 1999
Rinaldi's The Jukebox Queen of Malta gives us Rocco Raven, an American radio operator trapped on Malta during the German and Italian bombardments of WWII. Rocco quickly learns he cannot escape the enchantment of the island, it's charismatic people and the love he feels for Melita. Rinaldi weaves history with stories of perserverence and will, providing a humorous and fantastical account of the human spirit in times of war. Through the lunacy of the constant bombing, servicemen like Fingerly hoard tidbits of Maltese history-Dragut's dagger, a one hundred pound suit of armor and mummies from Egypt. Others spend hours in what's left of once glorious casinos betting on where the bombs will drop next, the statue of Queen Victoria, a church or an unsuspecting bus. Central to the plot is Zammit, who creates lush jukeboxes out of the ruins of Malta, first with wood and stained glass and later from smashed auto parts. A fine read filled with poetic prose and historical treats.