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This is a historical novel with a difference. The narrator delves into the past of her previously unknown grandmother, the Greta of the title, concentrating on Greta's experiences as an 18 year old Italian convent girl in Fiume, 1919-1920. The book imaginatively chronicles sixteen months as experienced by Greta and her chief mentor, Tullio, the young journalist from Udine with his adventurer-aviator friend, Giulio Kepler and yet another character trying to find the key to meaning in his life, the American Paul Forst. Obsessive memories of the recent horrors of the Great War haunt the minds and the lives of these young men as they face the new ordeal of Fiume under blockade, following the occupation of the city by Gabriele d'Annunzio at the head of a small army of disaffected soldiers, trying to annexe Fiume to Italy. For Greta, this rite of passage carries her into the responsibilities of both history and womanhood.