February 18th 2010
320 pages
B-format Paperback



Before the Earthquake by Maria Allen

Buy Now Price £7.99

Fabulous historical page-turner sees 15-year-old Concetta piecing together her past after an earthquake devastates her rural Italian village and leaves her with no memory

Good Housekeeping

Allen’s prose is perfectly attuned to the atavistic ways of the village, with its dual adherence to religion and supersition. Spellbinding


A brooding mystery: atmospheric and deftly paced

Hephzibah Anderson, Daily Mail

Who was the man she met last night?

At the turn of the last century, the Salierno family make a tough living as farmers in the forbidding, mountainous terrain of Southern Italy. One stiflingly hot summer, an earthquake strikes, devastating their village, destroying homes and taking lives. Concetta, their fifteen-year old daughter, is seriously injured — and, on waking from a coma, can’t remember anything in the weeks before the disaster. When Concetta discovers she is pregnant, her family marry her off hastily to neighbours who owe a debt of honour. 
For her family, this story is over: covered up; but for Concetta, it is only the beginning. With the help of grieving signora Clara, whose son Peppe lost his life in the earthquake, Concetta sets out to discover the identity of her child’s father and solve the mystery of what happened in those forgotten weeks before the earthquake. In doing so, she must try to balance the demands of her new life with the disturbing half-memories of her past — of loss, love and violence.

A beautiful, subtle book which transported me to rural Italy at the turn of the century: a deeply moving debut

Nicola Monaghan

A story shaped as powerfully by a pitiless code of honour as it is by the cracking earth and the searing sun

Fiona Shaw

Reader’s Comments

  1. What a brilliant read, i was transported in to the lives and families of Italy, with twist and turns, heartache and happiness. Will look forward to Maria Allen's next novel.

    maria marlow — 23rd January 2010

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed reading Maria`s book. A brilliant insight into the lives of Italian villagers and a touching story.

    Janet Whitworth — 22nd February 2010

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