“A beautifully written book that paints a vivid and enchanting image of Italy’s Fourth Shore, Tripoli.”



The Fourth Shore is the third novel from award-winning writer, Virginia Baily. The story is set across multiple decades and tells the tale of the often forgotten history of Italian colonization of Tripolitania, Libya known as the ‘Fourth Shore.’

The book’s main protagonist, Liliana Cattaneo grew up with her brother, Stefano in fascist Italy but when an incident pushes him to make the move to Tripoli, Liliana misses him. Finally, she is invited to stay with him in 1929 and she sets off in search of an exciting new adventure in an exotic location. However, it soon becomes clear to the reader that the reality isn’t quite what Liliana was expecting.

Each chapter begins with a description of a saved and treasured item which offers a small insight into Liliana’s character and her life. While the narrative itself darts back and forth in time from Liliana’s time in Italy and Tripoli from the late 1920s through to the 1930s and forward onto her life now in the 1970s in London, where the secrets and mysteries of her past are slowly revealed and unravelled, not just to the reader but to Liliana herself in flashbacks and in the telling of her life back in Tripoli.

The naive and confused Liliana is joined in this story by a full cast of great, well-rounded and multi-layered characters; her strong and determined brother, the intriguing Farida and the youthful Zaida whose lives all twist and intertwine in an intricate and gripping web.

A beautifully written book that paints a vivid and enchanting image of Italy’s Fourth Shore, Tripoli; it’s glittering blue sea, the pinkish columns of ruins and the twisted old town streets filled with mystery. Alongside this picturesque backdrop is the juxtaposing violence, war, repression and fear of fascist Italy. A thoroughly gripping, enchanting and intriguing read!


Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 11th May 2019

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Catherine Muxworthy