From Sand and Ash [Book Review]

April 13, 2018

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (cover) Image: profile of a young woman gazing out reflectively over a city

Genre/categories: Historical Fiction, Love Story, Jewish, Catholic, WW11

*Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy: Quick Lit/April. If you’ve clicked over, Welcome! 

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


From Sand and Ash is engaging historical fiction with generous servings of romance, faith, determination, hope, loyalty, inter-faith relationship struggles, and a violin….A thoughtful story of love, survival, life, death, faith, and sacrifice.

In 1943, Italy’s Jewish population is in imminent danger from the forces of hatred and prejudice. Raised like brother and sister, Eva and Angelo enjoy childhood best friend closeness which later blooms into a romance. Although they are devoted to each other, Eva, an accomplished violinist, is Jewish and Angelo chooses to follow a calling to become a Catholic priest. As the Gestapo arrests Jewish residents of Florence, Angelo convinces Eva to follow him to Rome to hide in a convent under his watchful eye while he serves nearby at the Vatican. Eva discovers that the Catholic Church is hiding hundreds of Jews and facilitating their escape when possible. Angelo has made a promise to Eva’s family and feels a duty to keep her safe, which is complicated by romantic feelings. This page turning story follows Eva and Angelo as they face trials, take risks, and make agonizing choices.

Amazon Rating (April): 4.7 Stars

My Thoughts:

Faith: Unputdownable, From Sand and Ash is a unique and beautifully written story. For me, the most engaging part of the story is the focus on the inter-faith aspect of their relationship. As they navigate their romantic feelings, they also extensively debate the nature of God, the methods and habits of prayer, and the personal importance of his/her individual faith. I found the honest and relevant spiritual content in the book refreshing and realistic. I appreciate knowing about the Catholic Church’s role in saving Jews in Italy and exploring Eva’s and Angelo’s personal crises of faith. Their dialogue and subsequent understanding and acceptance of the other’s faith was thoughtfully written, and this aspect of the story pushed it beyond 4 stars for me.

Romance: Some reviewers have cited a frustration with an over abundance of romance for a histfic selection; however, there is a great deal more to the story than the romance. Typical of histfic, readers find ordinary people doing extraordinary things under incredibly difficult circumstances. Romance is a part of Eva’s and Angelo’s story and deepens the inner conflict and becomes one of many challenges in the midst of overwhelming and impossible circumstances. I view the romance as an integral part of their life experience, and I do not see it distracting or detracting from the story. But be cautioned: there is romance!

Resistance: Both Eva and Angelo choose to resist in small and large ways. Their fear took a back seat to their need to DO something. A recurring and powerful theme in the story is that they could not NOT act.

Resistance’s Companions are Fear and Hope:

“Fear is strange. It settles on chests and seeps through skin, through layers of tissue, muscle, and bone and collects in a soul-sized black home, sucking the joy out of life, the pleasures, the beauty. But not the hope. Somehow hope is the only thing resilient to the fear, and it is that hope that makes the next breath possible, the next step, the next tiny act of rebellion, even if that rebellion is simply staying alive.”

Heartbreaking: Despite warnings, the trusting Italian Jewish people couldn’t believe that the situation could or would escalate. Their desire to believe in good and reject the concept of evil was heartbreaking and sobering. It causes me to wonder at what point my family would take a threat seriously and take action to escape.

The Writing: Throughout the story there is an abundance of beautiful prose and creative writing, with a great deal of attention paid to character development and the advancement of plot. The story reads easily and is told fluidly and it found me turning pages quickly! *Reading tip: my husband reports that the audio is excellent!

Themes and Rating: Of course, if you follow my reviews you know that themes are incredibly important for me in determining a final star rating. I’ve already mentioned several important themes such as survival, hatred, loyalty, hope, resistance, fear, determination, resiliency, and faith. In addition, any story and/or characters that I’m still thinking about days and weeks later will likely earn 5 stars from me.

Recommended: From Sand and Ash is highly recommended for readers of histfic who love a captivating and inspirational story filled with faith discussions and unforgettable characters that causes readers to become personally engaged. You will deeply care about Eva and Angelo. This would also make a great book club selection.

My Rating: 5 Stars


From Sand and Ash

From Sand and Ash Information Here

Meet the Author, Amy Harmon

Amy HarmonAmy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Her books have been published in eighteen languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Utah.
Amy Harmon has written thirteen novels, including the USA Today Bestsellers, The Smallest Part, Making Faces, and Running Barefoot, and the #1 Amazon bestselling historical, From Sand and Ash. Her novel, A Different Blue, is a New York Times Bestseller. Her USA Today bestselling fantasy, The Bird and the Sword, was a Goodreads Best Book of 2016 finalist. For updates on upcoming book releases, author posts and more, join Amy at


Is From Sand and Ash on your TBR or have you read it?

I’d love to hear all about what you’re reading!

What are your favorite WW11 hisfic reads?

Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

White Rose, Black Forest
by Eoin Dempsey

White Rose Black Forest by Eoin Dempsey (cover) Image: a grayscale image of a cabin in the woods and a woman's face filling the background

What actions would you take to resist an evil regime?

I always find histic interesting because of the different perspectives that each story provides and for the knowledge I gain. In this story, we experience WW11 from the perspective of a German girl (who is a resistor at one time associated with the White Rose resistance organization). As she spends time at her family’s isolated cabin in the Black Forest struggling through some personal losses, she discovers an injured soldier and proceeds to provide urgent medical attention and to determine his true identity. It takes a while to decide if they can completely trust each other. He needs her help, and the end of the story finds them making a desperate escape attempt. While the last part of the book is tension-filled and fast-paced, the first half is a slow build-up…unfortunately the author breaks up the narrative by including long passages that read like history lessons. The story could have included better-written character development and dialogue, but overall this is an interesting, engaging, page-turner.  My Rating: 3.5 Stars (Amazon Rating: 4.6 Stars)

Favorite Theme: resistance

Favorite Quote:
“It required supernatural strength not to do the Gestapo’s bidding. That was the genius of their system–it took fortitude of an almost unimaginable scale to do the right thing.”

Recommended for hisfic fans who enjoy fast-paced thrillers and quick reads.

White Rose Black Forest Information Here

A Link I Love:

10 Ways To Woo a Reluctant Reader

Looking Ahead:

I plan to read and review The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel
(and check it off my Spring TBR).

Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel (cover) Image: a young woman in a blue coat and beret overlooks the city of Paris

The Room on Rue Amelie Information Here


This meme fits my current mood!

bah humbug

I am a little distraught to realize (am I late to this party?!) that the movie release date for Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is for the U.K. only. Evidently, the U.S. is getting it via Netflix. (date to be determined) This is disappointing news because I have been looking forward to seeing this on the big screen! I wonder if I can buy it from the UK on DVD or stream it from somewhere before it’s available on Netflix??? Another alternative is to fly to London!?!?!

As a fan of the book, how do you feel?

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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



  1. From Sand and Ash sounds like in intriguing plot amid all the WWII books coming out right now. Thanks for the recommendation Carol! And I agree. I’d like to see the Guernsey Movie in a theater!!! Netflix isn’t the same. Hope you post if you here a ate scheduled– I’ll send you a note if I hear anything here. xox

  2. […] Important Themes For me, thoughtful and important themes are essential for a five star endorsement. Themes are often the most important part of my reading experience as they allow me to make important connections with the story. My favorite stories involve ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the most difficult circumstances. One example of a five star read with thought provoking themes is From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon.  My review here. […]

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