The Light in the Ruins

  • by Chris Bohjalian
  • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell, Mark Bramhall
  • 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge - set in war-ravaged Tuscany.
It is 1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate's gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis' bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison.
In 1955 Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case - a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood - Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.
Set against an exquisitely rendered Italian countryside, The Light in the Ruins unveils a breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty, and the mysterious ways of the heart.

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What the Critics Say

"Thoroughly gripping, beautiful, and astonishingly vengeful, this novel is a heartbreaker. Bohjalian's latest turn to historical fiction is immensely rewarding." (Library Journal)
"A literary thriller... a soulful why-done-it." (Kirkus Reviews)
"An exploration of post-WW II Italy doubles as a murder mystery in this well-crafted novel... an entertaining historical whodunit." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Narration is grindingly distracting.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The reader.


What other book might you compare The Light in the Ruins to and why?

No particular book, or 100 books, nothing too awfully distinctive.


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Cassandra Campbell and Mark Bramhall ?

Anyone with a voice ranger over approximately 1.5 octaves, who would therefore not have had to resort to "tricks" to create different voices. Helium inhaled falsetto for a child and other characters. 2nd soprano male voices because the reader can't dip any lower than the tone of the non-dialog text. Someone who understands that creating an irritating tone for a character is simply a distraction from the text. This is the author's story, not a vainglorious performance. Awful.


Was The Light in the Ruins worth the listening time?

Absolutely not. Quit and bought the book.


Any additional comments?

Fire this narrator. Don't equate female author with female narrator when there are an equal number of male characters. Worse than a waste of money.

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- Seneca

Kept me listening

I cant say that this is one of Chris Bohjalian's best books, but I enjoyed the narration and the story intrigued me. I liked the way he got into the details of life in Italy for a "noble" family during the German occupation and weaved a murder mystery/ serial killer into it.That was a bit contrived in my opinion but that is what fiction is all about! It was by no means a favorite for me but it was entertaining and kept my interest.
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- Taryn "Addicted to Audible!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-09-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio