Beneath a Scarlet Sky summary and book club questions

Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky Book Club Questions and Book Review

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is an historical fiction based on the true life story of a forgotten hero. It tells the tale of a young man’s incredible courage and resilience during World War II in Italy. It is a wartime epic that brings the Second World War to life while touching everything from love to terror, compassion, revenge, courage, and heroism. Like many classics, but in its own unique way, it portrayed humanity in its richness and exposed the raw edges of the human nature. It also shows how a young teenager is forced to metamorphose into an adult; one of the many effects of war on young folks. Read on for the Beneath a Scarlet sky summary and book club questions.


With 525 pages, Mark Sullivan keeps you fascinated and anxious to turn to the next page. As a #1 Amazon Charts Bestseller with over 38,500 reviews, it has earned a 4.7-star rating on Amazon. Of course, there are negative reviews since we all see things from different perspectives and words have a way of evoking varying emotions in different people. Yet, 81% of readers including myself delivering 5 stars earned it its rating.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky Plot Summary

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is a story about Pino Lella, a teenager who bravely saved countless lives during WW II in Italy. It covers a period of 2 years in his life from 1943 to 1945. From the start, we perceived him to be a normal teenager interested in having fun like many his age (17). Within a short period though, he is forced to shed the innocence of youth and become an alpha male, helping Jews escape over the Alps after his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs.

In the course of his journey, he reunites with a beautiful widow, Anna, who initially stood him up before his life took a turn. Six years his senior, she weaves a beautiful love story with Pino, one that singlehandedly takes the book from historical fiction to romance.

The Plot Thickens

Pino enlisted as a German soldier under pressure from his parents but gets injured and is recruited by Adolf Hitler’s Left Hand in Italy, Gen. Hans Leyers, as his personal driver upon a chance meeting. This gives Pino an opportunity to spy for the Allies from within the German High Command. He experiences and witnesses many horrors of war, from the bomb blast in Milan to personal injuries, the pain of a mother over the loss of her son, seeing a friend’s little brother blown apart by a grenade, loss of body parts, and long lines of dead bodies and yes, (spoiler alert) the death of the woman with whom he envisioned his future.

At the end of this book, there is an epilogue that tells how the lives of key characters panned out after the bloodthirsty war, the effect it had, and still has on them, and how they’ve kept going.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky Get access to this amazing, well told story on Amazon.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky Reviews from Readers

Book Club Questions Beneath a Scarlet Sky
Book Club Questions Beneath a Scarlet Sky

“Leaves you wishing you could read it again for the first time”. Exactly how I felt after reading this.

One reader describes it as “shocking, moving, and absolutely compelling” and I can’t say less. These words accurately depict numerous events vividly described therein. This includes Pino’s emotions as he was tormented by guilt and traumatized by various gory scenes.

Another reader who believes that books should make avid readers feel fundamentally different from how they were before reading a book describes this one as a “page turner”. In his words, “it simply demanded my attention…full of regret that the book could not simply go on longer”. Compared with classics like War and Peace, this tells a lot about Mark Sullivan’s storytelling and depiction of real life events. It leaves a lot for book club discussions. Below is a list of Beneath a Scarlet Sky book club questions.

Read| If boots could talk

Beneath A Scarlet Sky Summary and Book Club Questions for Discussion

There are many stories depicting the brutality and effects of World War II. What impression of the war did this book leave on you?

Do you think the story accurately captured the horrifying situation back then? Could you picture yourself there? What emotions did that evoke?

Are there any members of your book club who lived through the war or are closely related to those who did whether in Italy or elsewhere? Can they relate with Pino’s narrative?

I noticed the help rendered by the Catholics to Jews during the war in Italy. Do you think that such selflessness despite differences in beliefs can still take place now especially with religious rivalry here and there?

Who do you think Hans Leyers really is? Take into consideration, his calling Pino’s codename in the resistance after Pino takes him to safety.

Does Anna’s story provide any insight into the life of single women during wars?

Pino enlisting in the German army was literally “working for the enemy”. What do you think about his decision to do so? Would you have done the same? Would it be to save yourself or for some other reason?

Was there anything Anna could have done differently to avoid her fate?

Gen. Leyers expressed belief in doing favors for others so that they owe him in return. Do you believe this too? Do you help others just to get something from them in return, either consciously or subconsciously, or just out of the goodness of your heart?

Some believe that near-death experiences change a person or one’s perception of life. After Pino and Leyers were almost killed by a British fighter plane, Leyers shared a lot about his life with Pino. Do you think this provide any useful insight into who Leyers is and how he became who he is? Did this event change anything about how you viewed him?

Pino had a chance to kill Leyers but he didn’t. Why do you think he held back?

What did you think about Pino and Mimo’s friendship and Anna and Pino’s love story?

Which of Pino’s numerous acts of bravery and compassion touched you the most?

What part of the book was most relatable for you?

Did it feel surreal?