The Metal Heart

The Metal Heart


The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.

No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.


Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea derbis, and something beautiful begins to blossom.

But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters - their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming...

In the tradition of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.

Our Review

I devoured The Glass Woman when I first read it and I loved The Metal Heart just as much. Caroline Lea has such a beautiful and poetic writing style.

She is able to make a place come alive in the reader’s imagination, to make it exist for them even though in all likelihood they have never been there before. I had never been to Orkney before, but I feel like I know it a little now.

The Metal Heart is based on a true historical event although like most historical fictions some things have been altered somewhat to fit the story and it certainly doesn’t affect the quality of the book.

As the author says, “Within this book, I wanted to give a voice to the people who find themselves caught up in a war, swept along by love and transformed as a result of circumstances beyond their control.”

I was hooked from the opening lines.

“Of all the ways to die, drowning may be the most peaceful... It is the death we would choose for others too – if we loved them enough.”

I loved the relationship between the two sisters and the way they both wanted to protect each other and break free from each other.

The Metal Heart was an absorbing book.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4/5

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