This novel is highly praised by many critics. The story is straight forward - an Italian rebel (ex-Christian) goes undercover (as a priest) in fascist Italy in late 1930's.
There is realistic depiction of the struggle against the fascist dictatorship - at the time very popular with the general population. While clearly anti- fascist, the rebel becomes uncomfortable with Russian type communism. He is rather a socialist. There are religious overtones throughout the novel but also some criticism of the church leaders who did not strenously oppose fascism and the war against Ethiopia.
The culture, society and characters are well drawn but the Italian names can be a little distracting for English readers. Also, the ending is somewhat ambiguous.