Sally Brady's Italian Adventure
Grade : B-

Sally Brady was only eleven when her parents put her on a train headed to the west coast – back when her name wasn’t Sally Brady. She’s under strict orders to send money home to Iowa, to help support her sick mother, the dying farm, and her four siblings. It would be an enormous burden for anyone, but a girl like Sally is no milksop, even though she’s managed to lose her shoes. Sally Brady’s Italian Adventure follows our titular heroine on her growing up adventure through Hollywood and to Europe during World War II. All of Sally’s point-of-view chapters entertain hugely, but Lynch overcomplicates things by splitting the narrative between Sally and two other characters I didn’t really care for, and I often felt annoyed to be pulled out of Sally’s PoV.

Trying to escape from police alerted to her presence (she was trying to steal apples because she was starving), she literally dives onto the lap of luxury when she lands in the car of Patsy Chen, a movie star who sees adopting Sally as a good PR move as well as something that will make her seem more complex as an actress. Patsy and her B-movie sidekick-playing husband George Brady soon adopt Sally into the lap of luxury, and she is raised to adolescence in Hollywood, then spends her mid-teenage years in Europe when Patsy’s career and marriage goes belly-up and she becomes a gossip columnist for the Hearst papers.  Sally’s a shoe-in to take over Patsy’s column and become the new Bon Vivant columnist when Patsy marries a rich old man and returns to America. Sally soon finds herself contending with an expulsion order from her home in Siena, Italy. As an American journalist – even one of such light material, and especially one with a major radio presence – she’s now considered an enemy of the state by Mussolini. Left stranded in the country, Sally chooses to help the antifascist resistance on the sly, which turns her into a target.

Elsewhere in Siena, Lapo, who has made a name for himself as a writer, does any and everything he can to assure the happiness of his family – his American wife, Eleanor, his son Alessandro, and his daughters. That includes spending every cent he has on a large estate and castle. When the war sets in, Eleanor and the girls go to safety in Chicago while Lapo strikes a deal with Il Duce to write his memoirs in trade for the unwilling Alessandro getting a softer assignment in the army that will guarantee his safety when he is conscripted. Antifascist Lapo hates every word he types, but he believes he’s at least he’s protecting his son. That notion gets turned on its ear when his home is commandeered by the fascist forces as a POW prison.

As Alessandro foments a rebellion from the army and finds himself unwittingly attracted to Sally, Lapo resents his labor and his turncoat neighbors. The air is thick with mistrust, and as fascism begins to take over Italy our three narrators must decide who they can believe in.

Sally Brady’s Italian Adventure hops between being a reflective look at the rise of Italian fascism and life in Europe during World War II and the sprightly point of view of Sally. The book would’ve been so much stronger if we’d kept looking at life in Italy through her eyes. I recognize the fact that Lynch wanted to tell a panoramic story, showing what it was like to be a hostile soldier, an unwilling servant to evil, and a foreigner who wants to get home all at the same time.

But the book is at its best and most interesting when Sally is telling her story; Lapo’s point of view feels superfluous, even though he exists mainly to make pointed commentary about the evils of fascism and the way prison camps operated during the era. Perhaps splitting the point of view between Sally and Alessandro would have worked better.

Sally is a bright, lively figure who has wit and strength and is smart; she uses her mouth and her sources to get herself out of Italy. Her world of gossip is fascinating, and her guilt about leaving her family behind while she goes to live in the lap of luxury is understandable. Her romance with Alessando is typical enemies-to-lovers fare, but it works.

I did have problems with Lynch’s research, which she admitts in her author’s note is augmented and ameliorated by use of fiction. I liked Sally too much to give her adventure a C, but that’s just one reason why I couldn’t give it an A.

Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes

Grade: B-

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : June 22, 2023

Publication Date: 06/2023

Review Tags: Italy World War II

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Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at, follow her on Twitter at or contribute to her Patreon at or her Ko-Fi at
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