Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Not All Bastards Are from Vienna

by Andrea Molesini

Winner of the prestigious Campiello Prize, this international bestseller tells the riveting story of an Italian family whose courage is put to the test when their villa is requisitioned by enemy troops during the First World War.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date February 14, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2630-6
  • Dimensions 5" x 5"
  • US List Price $17.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date February 02, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2434-0
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $26.00

About The Book

“Take Hemingway’s masterpiece A Farewell to Arms and Erich Maria Remarque’s classic All Quiet on the Western Front, and cross these two war depictions with the portrait of Italian aristocracy in Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel The Leopard . . . [Not All Bastards Are from Vienna] is a powerful and effective blend of Bildungsroman, armchair travel, historical document, and war drama, with touches of a thriller.” —Kultur (Denmark)

Andrea Molesini’s exquisite debut novel—winner of the prestigious Campiello Prize—portrays the depths of heroism and horror within a Northern Italian village toward the end of the Great War. In the autumn of 1917, Refrontolo—a small community north of Venice—is occupied by Austrian soldiers as the Italian army is pushed to the Piave river. The Spada family owns the largest estate in the area, where orphaned seventeen-year-old Paolo lives with his eccentric grandparents, headstrong aunt, and a loyal staff. With the battlefront nearby, the Spada home become a bastion of resistance, both clashing and cooperating with the military men imposing on their household. As his family succumbs to acts of jealousy and betrayal, love and hate, Paolo is recruited to help with a compromising covert operation and his life is put in irrevocable jeopardy.

Internationally celebrated and garlanded with awards, Not All Bastards Are from Vienna is an unforgettable portrait of the erosion of tradition and the fall of an Italian aristocratic family, whose personal battles burn with more fire than those of the war happening around them.

Tags Literary


“A thunderbolt of a debut novel . . . a vast fresco, both family chronicle and story
of the Great War . . . evoked with finesse and erudition.” —L’Express (France)

“Wonderfully alive–often terribly so–as a wartime adventure and story of youth arriving at manhood.” —New York Times Book Review

War and Peace meets The Leopard in a novel set among Italian aristocrats during the Great War . . . Rich and moving . . . Molesini has the true novelist’s ability to bring scenes and individuals immediately before our eyes, so vividly that they take possession of our imagination . . . This is a very fine novel indeed, a historical novel that speaks to the present as powerfully and clearly as it does of the past.” —Wall Street Journal

“[A] stunning debut novel . . . Riveting and heartwarming, Molesini balances a nuanced look at the nature of war with the minor triumphs and defeats that mark growing up and falling in love. Molesini’s moving and lyrical writing proves that Not All Bastards Are from Vienna belongs in the canon of great war fiction.” —Paste Magazine

“Wonderful.” —La Stampa (Italy)

“With formidable talent, Molesini gradually reveals a universe of love and hate, patriotism and everyday heroism.” —Le Monde (France)

“Molesini gives all his grace to the story . . . [with] great expressive power.” —El Pais (Spain)

“A great novel, one to read and reread for its abundance of broad and deep reflections.”
Kult Underground (Italy)

“Molesini’s words are vital and transcend the rhetoric of memory . . . Behind this skillful work lies a collective vision, one that speaks for individuals no longer with us.” —La Repubblica (Italy)

“A novel of boundless beauty and tenderness, but also the overwhelming sadness and
drama of war in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century. A story, too, about almost unsung heroes, those who forged the dream of a continent.” —ABC (Spain)


Donna Maria didn’t get a wink of sleep. She told me so the next morning. It wasn’t fear, for in her mind there was simply no room for fear. She was afraid neither for herself nor for us. “These jackals have other things to keep them busy, but if they reach Venice there’ll be no end to the looting. And now they are here, in my garden, in my rooms, in my kitchen, and they’re digging the latrine in the soil which is the resting place of my mother and of yours.” It wasn’t true. Teutonic efficiency had not yet envisaged drain fields, but my aunt had a meticulous imagination, thirsty for details, and especially the most disagreeable.

In the dead of night she had heard a horse neighing. The sound came from the portico. The neighing of horses always gave her gooseflesh because she loved horses. She had seen them dragging the last of the rearguard’s carts; she had seen them refusing the bit, tossing their heads, digging in their hoofs when they passed by the corpses of mules with their thighs slashed open by the bayonets of hungry infantrymen.

“They have a sense of foreboding at the death of one of their own kind, just as we do ourselves.” It was so unjust that they were made to suffer. “It is men who make war; animals have nothing to do with it. And then . . . maybe they are closer to God . . . they are so simple . . . so direct.”