It is the small lives, tucked away, that reveal humanity in all its bigness. A charming treat of a novel - as sunny, light and enjoyable as a strawberry gelato eaten in an Italian piazza on a summer's day. Luigi is a young Italian boy growing up in Tuscany in the 1920s, dreaming of cowboys and adventure, when a young Englishman, passing through on his way to Rome, gives him his first bicycle, thus sparking a lifelong passion. When World War II begins, Luigi enlists with the Bersaglieri, the Italian Army Cycling Corps (naturally), before unexpectedly finding himself fighting alongside the Partisans. Despite encountering great sorrow and tragedy, Luigi's zest for life remains undiminished, and his next adventure sees him cycling through the Holy Land, Turkey and Sri Lanka before finding an unexpected home - and an extraordinary surprise - in Australia.
An irrepressibly optimistic, sweetly funny story, Luigi's Freedom Ride is about life, bicycles and the joy of the journey - showing how even a small life, lived in the shadow of great events, can be rich in contentment and spirit.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
Apparently there was an Italian Bicycle Corps during World War Two. It's a small detail in a big conflict and one that forms the basis for a refreshingly different perspective.
When Luigi leaves his Tuscan village home together with two friends to join the Bicycle Corps, he is already a talented cyclist (and adept at repairs), having been given a damaged bicycle by a British visitor. Until then he has been innocent and carefree, cherished by his close knit family. But when he and his friends join up to Mussolini's forces and are sent to a bicycle unit on the Adriatic, his life darkens as war edges closer. Eventually he joins the Partisans in their bold acts of sabotage, before leaving his beloved Italy for adventures that take him as far as Australia.
Written in a light, sunny, and often playful tone, this is a gently beguiling tale of one young's man's adventures in a world that changes forever before his eyes.
Review by Terry Purcell
Luigi's Freedom Ride is a first novel by Alan Murray, an established writer of non-fiction which can be categorised as a “feel good” read with strong Australian, Italian and cycling themes. It tells the story of Luigi, growing up in Mussolini’s pre-war Italy in a small Tuscan village, who, while still a young teenager, luckily acquires a damaged bicycle left with him by a British tourist. With the help of his uncle he repairs the bike which allows him to glimpse the world outside his. From that point onwards Luigi’s bicycle is an important sub-text reinforced by more...
About the Author
Alan Murray is a widely published historian whose subject specialties are coal mining, miners and their communities in Australia. He has, in the past, worked as a newspaper journalist, and worked extensively with media including, variously, as a television documentary script writer/anchor/ expert consultant and radio short story writer. Originally from Edinburgh, he now lives in Ocean Shores, in the Northern Rivers region of NSW.
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Comments about Luigi's Freedom Ride:
Luigi's Freedom Ride takes the reader into a very realistic world of youth and adventure during and after World War II. A journey so many took from war torn Italy to Australia. A trip that changed their lives and helped shaped our nation. This book should be read by all Australian-Italian decedents and anyone who has ever experienced the joy of the Italian culture.
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 1st July 2014
Dimensions (cm): 21.0 x 15.4 x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.43