Book Review: Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich

port of no return michelle saftich book review
Port of No Return Blog Tour michelle saftich

The synopsis on the back of the book:

Contessa and Ettore Saforo awake to a normal day in war-stricken, occupied Italy. By the end of the day, their house is in ruins and they must seek shelter and protection wherever they can. But the turbulent politics of 1944 refuses to let them be.

As Tito and his Yugoslav Army threaten their German-held town of Fiume, Ettore finds himself running for his life, knowing that neither side is forgiving of those who have assisted the enemy. His wife and children must also flee the meagre life their town can offer, searching for a better life as displaced persons.

Ettore and Contessa’s battle to find each other, and the struggle of their family and friends to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a devastating war, provide a rich and varied account of Italian migration to Australia after World War II.

What can you do when you have nowhere left to call home? Port of No Return considers this question and more in a novel that is full of action, pain and laughter — a journey you will want to see through to the very end.

Port of No Return is the first novel in a series of two.

  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Published: 7/2015
  • Pages: 238
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2 Stars
Port of no return michelle saftich review
Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
— Joshua 1:9

Why I choose this book

I am part of the Historical Fiction book tours hosted by Amy Bruno. I felt like it was a good book to remind me of how thankful I am for the lifestyle I have right now. 

First Initial Thoughts

The story started with Ettore and Contessa in a war-stricken Fiume, Italy. Before the war, they had a good life and a good business. The war, however, caused people to lose a lot as we all remember from historical accounts. They have four children and live in a tiny apartment above their closed business. Ettore works for the Germans to help support his family. Their life was turned upside down when the Germans attached Fiume and destroyed their home. 

Many women during this time did everything they could to support and feed their children. And Contessa was this woman. She was formidable. Even though she had a tough exterior, she had this soft emotional side. A side that dearly loved her children and husband and felt a tremendous loss. 

Ettore was equally charming. He loved his family and provided for them. At the beginning of the book, he wasn't the main part of the story, but he gained an important role later on. 


Michelle did an amazing job bringing a war-stricken Italy to life. You could imagine the hardships these people had to go through - from losing their home to losing loved ones. I couldn't imagine going through such a hard war and then just as you thought it was going to be ok,  the country was taken over by the communists. 

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
— Psalm 9:9-10

Final Thoughts

I haven't read too many WWII books set in Italy. I have seen Life is Beautiful. I was a little worried that it was going to be similar - but luckily the story wasn't that depressing. 

Fiume which is now called Rijeka and in the country, Croatia. Right after WWII ended, the Yugoslavians (communists) took over the city of Fiume and much of this part of Europe. Many Italians during this time fled from Fiume to Trieste where the Americans held refugee camps. 

When the Yugoslavians took over they captured any man who worked for the Germans and executed them. Just plain citizens who knew nothing better! Some were even captured and sent to war camps where many died from being tortured and starved. Ettore having to work for the Germans was taken captive by the Yugoslavians after fleeing from their house. 

Contessa and the children fled to a refugee camp, thus being separated from Ettore. The descriptions of the refugee camps were depressing. Having to sleep on lice-infested mattresses and thin blankets. Whoever endured that earns a triple gold star in my book. 

Ettore and Contessa's love story was absolutely inspiring. They never gave up on each other and constantly was looking for one another. It was so sweet and enduring. To have that kind of love for someone is absolutely heartening. Speaking of Ettore's story about trying to get back to Contessa. Those were the most emotional parts of the story. Some of it was really hard to read. i couldn't believe that those things actually happened. :( 

Would I Recommend? 

Yes! While this isn't labeled as a Christian book, it is quite clean. It does have some mild violence but nothing too intense. This book is a perfect reminder that faith and hope is everything. Have faith that things will turn out better in the end. 

About the Author

Michelle Saftich author

Michelle Saftich is a first-time author who resides in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and two children. She holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). For the past twenty years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations. In 1999, she was named National Winner for Best News Story in the ASNA (Australian Suburban Newspaper Awards). Born and raised in Brisbane, she spent ten years living in Sydney; and two years in Osaka, Japan, where she taught English.

For more information please visit Michelle Saftich’s website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.


giveaway port of no return amazon giveaway

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

* Please note that Amy Bruno, the host of this tour will contact you if you are the winner. 


Thank you for stopping by and good luck on the giveaway!! 

the caffeinated bibliophile

NOTE: I was provided this book by HF Virtual Book Tours & Book Junkie Promotions to review. All opinions are my own.