“Beautifully portrayed in poignant narrative, Lilia is a heart-wrenching saga set amidst the cruelties of fascist Italy allied with the Nazis during WWII. Month after month and tragedy after tragedy, the plight of Lilia’s family worsens. Ganzini brilliantly depicts the turmoil and upheaval of a family caught in the crosshairs of the partisan/fascist conflict. But Lilia’s tender heart, broken time and time again by the betrayals and bloodshed of war, and a mother irreparably broken by loss, refuses to succumb, clinging fiercely to her dreams of finding true love and everlasting happiness. Lilia will possess your heart and linger on in your mind long after you finish the final chapter.”

ROXI HARMS  | Author of The Upside of Hunger 

LILIA – A True Story of Love, Courage, and Survival in the Shadow of War.


Against the backdrop of fascist Italy during World War II and the Holocaust, Lilia sets the stage for the harrowing story of a family whose depth of heart overcomes a war tearing them apart—years marred by unfathomable tragedies, immense loss, upheaval, and countless betrayals.

From a young age, Lilia resigns herself to a world crushed by misery, abject poverty, and a broken, bitter mother who suffered insurmountable grief. The burden of war, loneliness, and adult responsibilities rob Lilia of a carefree childhood. Witnessing her parent's challenge to stay alive during the Nazi occupation becomes Lilia's greatest sorrow, one she makes the most heroic efforts to conceal. Ultimately, tragic loss dims the flame of Lilia's belief in her future. Just as her prayers feel unanswered, a seed of love reignites her faith, changing her destiny forever, leading her towards an unforgettable and inspiring triumph over tragedy. 

This poignant account will transport you to a lost moment in history that irreversibly changes a quaint Northern Italian village, transforming its people for generations to come. Through the eyes and courageous spirit of a brave young girl, Lilia's family story comes to life on the page and will remain on your mind for a long time coming. Where there is love, hope remains.

“Memories of war and a stolen childhood still burn in my heart and tear at my soul. I was a young girl who was made to endure the unthinkable. During the occupation, German soldiers invaded our village—a known hideout for partisans. Spies acted as friends by day and informants to the Nazis by night. Unable to trust anyone, we lived in silence so deafening it was torture. The darkest day of my life came when the Nazis took my brother. I felt helpless as the war tore our family apart. His last words to my mother: Mama, if I don't go now, they will kill us all.” I saw the pain in my mother's eyes. I felt her heart cry words she  could  never speak. Haunted by death, I prayed: God, let me grow up before I die. Like the war, my life was senseless.”

Lilia Ganzini

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

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Lilia Ganzini 

“After securing my passport and a third-class ticket, I was set to leave my country behind for America on July 25, 1956 aboard the SS Andrea Doria luxury liner. Due to unexpected document delays, immigration moved up my departure date to March 16 on the Saturnia. July 25th, the Andrea Doria collided with MS Stockholm causing numerous casualties, making it one of history’s most tragic maritime disasters. The ship capsized and sank the following morning disappearing into the Atlantic Ocean. My life was spared that day. Destiny had a better plan for me.”


SS Saturnia


“In the past two days, I traveled to and from Alaska’s capital city, but along the way I visited much more memorable destinations. I explored 1940s Italy —Mussons, Rome, and WWII’s most brutal concentration camps. I fell in love with a place I have never been and with a poor family that I will likely never meet. Page after page I followed their harrowing journey through our Second World War, and its aftermath. In Lilia I found lasting love, unbearable loss, and courage beyond imagining. As a father and a war veteran I connected on a deep emotional level with the characters. Although I didn’t intend to, I paid for my journey with a bounty of tears. This true story by debut novelist Linda Ganzini is a beautiful masterpiece. Bring it home to adorn your bookshelf and to live in your heart.”

Sidney Wood  Author of Path of Jen: Bloodborne