By: Francesca Duranti
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media via NetGalley
The arrival of a mysterious young stranger disrupts the lives of a wealthy, unhappy family
Ever since he was a little boy, Aldo Rugani has been drawn to the world of the aristocracy. Now an art dealer with a questionable past, Aldo finds himself a regular guest at the Tuscan estate of the affluent but unstable Santini family. He also works his way into the confidence of the clan’s elderly but very much alive matriarch, Violante. Tough and indomitable, the grande dame is determined to see that her troubled family has a secure future before she dies.
As an outsider, Aldo can only watch as the family members mindlessly self-destruct. He pines for Lavinia, Violante’s much-adored, romantically reckless widowed daughter-in-law. But on one particular weekend holiday in Tuscany, a young visitor comes to the Santini estate. A friend of Lavinia’s son, Marco intends only to stop over briefly. But before he departs, everything will be different for the hapless Santinis.
I was browsing through the titles available from Open Road Media on NetGalley when the covers from Francesca Duranti caught my attention. As many of you know, I’m always on the lookout for Italian literature translated and available over here. The premise of this novel also sounded interesting: aristocratic classes hiding a messed up family dynamic, a stranger upsetting the balance of things, etc. This novel was released on 21 January 2014.
I Stole the Rain
By: Elisa Ruotolo
Format/Source: eBook; won a copy from a Book giveaway hosted by Booklover Book Reviews
I Stole the Rain tells a trio of unforgettable stories from the superstitious Italian province of Campania, where fizzy drinks are delivered by cart, old women sell gold to a furtive clientele, and the tobacconist’s daughter is a prize beyond imagining. In “I am Super Legend,” a local team of beer-swilling, smoking, perennial losers is dragged toward the dubiously prestigious championship by the coach’s son, who becomes cursed by his nickname, Super Legend. In “Look at Me,” a motherless boy tries to help his father’s best friend, the mute Cesare, who has fallen in love with their housekeeper Silvia. And in “The Child Comes Home,” a young boy disappears, and after losing everything and being forced to take up her grandmother’s questionably legal profession, his mother is consoled by her bickering sisters-in-law and her undying wish to hear a knock on her front door… A sublime mixture of humor and pathos, and brimming with colorful characters, Elisa Ruotolo’s I Stole the Rain is an assured debut from one of Italy’s preeminent storytellers.
To be honest, the book cover was the first thing that caught my attention for this volume; Frisch and Co. did a wonderful job with the cover art for this series of short story volumes. But more to the point I’m always on a lookout for Italian literature and this volume sounded really interesting. I received a digital copy of this book from the publishers through a contest held by Booklover Book Reviews.
The Late Mattia Pascal
By: Luigi Pirandello
Mattia Pascal endures a life of drudgery in a provincial town. Then, providentially, he discovers that he has been declared dead. Realizing he has a chance to start over, to do it right this time, he moves to a new city, adopts a new name, and a new course of life—only to find that this new existence is as insufferable as the old one. But when he returns to the world he left behind, it’s too late: his job is gone, his wife has remarried. Mattia Pascal’s fate is to live on as the ghost of the man he was.
In my quest to read more Italian literature, I came across this title. It’s totally up my alley, touching on themes of identity, starting over, life. May contain some spoilers ahead!
The Prague Cemetery
By: Umberto Eco
19th-century Europe—from Turin to Prague to Paris—abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay one lone man? What if that evil genius created its most infamous document?
This is the second book I’ve read by Umberto Eco. I read The Name of the Rose a few years ago but have been meaning to re-read it; I don’t think I quite appreciated the depth and scope of the novel the first time around. Anyways, I picked up this novel because the premise sounded intriguing–the 19th century indeed was a period fraught with all sorts of upheavals and turnovers–and knowing now what to expect form an Eco novel, I was prepared to exercise a bit of brain power to understand the novel. Contains some spoilers ahead!
The Solitude of Prime Numbers
By: Paolo Giordano
A prime number is a lonely thing. It can only be divided by itself or by one, and it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia are both “primes”-misfits haunted by early tragedies. When the two meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit. Years later, a chance encounter reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface. But can two prime numbers ever find a way to be together?
And for some reason, I am able to squeeze just one more book & review for 2012! =P I was struggling the other day figuring out what to read next and in the end picked up this book from my pile; it seemed a decent length and the premise was intriguing. Because it was written by an Italian author (a bestseller in Italy, apparently), I’ve also included this with the I Love Italy Reading Challenge I’m participating in. Contains some spoilers ahead!