My novels are set in Italy during the rise of Fascism (1920s & 30s) and the immediate post-war period. I focus on little explored places and ways of life, rarely covered in fiction in English. 

I am inspired by family stories (all my background is Italian, my parents were immigrants to the UK in the 50s) and have always been interested in European history of this period. I also weave in first hand knowledge of working within the Catholic Church.

I received an Arts Council Grants for the Arts Award to research The Lives We Leave Behind and was one of New Writing South's NWS10 talented emerging writers.

I am also a shortlisted contemporary flash fiction writer and write short stories on themes of identity and relationships.

 

The Lives We Leave Behind is about how ordinary lives are changed by the hand of politics, religion and poverty. It is set during the rise of Fascism in Italy between the two World Wars, The novel spans eighteen years.

River of Truths is my current work in progress.

The Lives We Leave Behind

 

Italy, 1922.

 

Mussolini is on the rise, but the Catholic Church is not about to let go of its hold on the people.

 

In a poor mountain village, 16-year-old Maria wants more than survival and family duty. She yearns for childhood friend Peppe, who also seeks escape from local corruption and his obligations to the priest.

 

When Fascist thugs break up a Peasant League protest, the aftermath takes them close to the changes sweeping Italy but far from one another. Until the day they have to face the consequences of their choices.

What early readers have said

"You’ve created a world that I felt fully a part of and which had me living through Peppe, Maria and their fellow characters. It’s a gorgeous, multi-layered novel with real emotional depth."

"I thought this was a very convincing love story with real passion and drama driving the parting and rediscovery of each other for Peppe and Maria. I think you convey the emotion - both the pain and the happiness - in the central relationship very effectively, particularly from Maria's perspective. You use the historical context and your deep knowledge of it, very carefully to your advantage, allowing the story to touch on politics, religion and the effects of war with a clear confidence."

 

"A very feminine book - in a good way - the internal thoughts and intimate physical experiences. Maria is a strinkingly powerful woman from a humble background."

"A good sustained level of tension about when and how Peppe and Maria will eventually meet again and what will happen when they do."

"A genuinely enjoyable read in the same way as the other books I took on holiday with me - William Boyd's Sweet Caress and Ian McEwan's The Child in Time. It bore a very sound comparison." 

© 2020 by Anna Hayward