Jul. 24—As Matthew Necci was growing up, he became fascinated by what he heard from relatives about his paternal grandfather's life.
Romeo Necci had immigrated to the United States from Italy to escape the regime of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. But then he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent back across the Atlantic to fight, including service in North Africa, Sicily, and in the Normandy invasion of occupied France.
Because he was an immigrant and could fit in, he was used in missions behind enemy lines.
That story became the core of a novel Matthew Necci — a partner in the prominent Hartford law firm of Halloran & Sage and a resident of Glastonbury — set about writing during the forced leisure of last year's COVID-19 shutdowns.
But Necci didn't have reminiscences by his grandfather, who had died in 2007, to draw on in fleshing out the story.
He calls his grandfather "an amazing guy but very quiet." And he sees that as part of the broader culture of the World War II generation, which often didn't include expansive discussion of experiences and feelings.
TITLE: "The Road Will Someday Bend"
AUTHOR: Matthew Necci
PUBLISHER: Halo Publishing
PRICE: $26.95 hard cover, $16.95 paperback
So Matthew Necci was left to rely to a significant extent on his imagination in writing the novel.
"I knew where I wanted to start it, and I knew where I wanted to end it," he says.
But after a couple of chapters, he threw out an early outline and let the characters and the story develop more organically. And he says the main character, whom he re-Christened Romeo Cardinali, includes a lot of himself along with his grandfather.
Important parts of the story happen in Brooklyn, New York, where Matthew Necci often visited family when he was growing up.
Later, when he was in law school in Manhattan, Necci would spend weekends exploring Brooklyn with Jen, who was then his girlfriend and is now his wife. They would walk through Prospect Park, he recalls, and those experiences find echoes as Romeo courts Rosa in the novel.
The book includes scenes of horrendous violence during World War II, and there is an earlier scene in which Romeo is mugged by false friends at the end of his passage from Italy to the United States.
But much of the book can only be described as gentle, reflecting Matthew Necci's description of his grandfather as "a gentle man and a gentleman." The conflicts between characters generally play out within civilized limits.
It's a refreshing change from a modern world in which people often seem to take professional wrestling and reality television as models for their feelings and behavior.
"I wanted to write it in a way that honored who he was as a person," Matthew Necci says of his grandfather.
He also shares the awe of the American people during World War II that has crystallized in journalist Tom Brokaw's phrase, "the greatest generation."
"I wish people could be a little more selfless the way that generation was," Matthew Necci says.
He says his goal in writing the book wasn't to "sell copies."
When his wife's father died a few years ago, Necci recalls, she said she wished she had talked more with him about his life. Necci says part of his goal in writing the book was to leave something concrete for his 8- and 10-year-old daughters, Riley and Abby, and for future generations of the family.
That said, he has also posted on his writing blog congratulations from his publisher, Halo Publishing International, to its best-selling authors in the spring of 2021, which has his name and "The Road Will Someday Bend" at the top of the list.
Necci attributes that success to friends and family members who he says have "gone crazy" about getting word about the book out on social media.
For updates on Glastonbury, and recent crime and courts coverage in North-Central Connecticut, follow Alex Wood on Twitter: @AlexWoodJI1, Facebook: Alex Wood, and Instagram: @AlexWoodJI.