The Novel

“They are sitting in the garden under the linden tree, at the top of the incline that from the ancient village leads to the castle. Someone took the picture…”

This is the opening of the enticing family saga that unfolds on the background of Italian history from 1870 to 1945. The rich narrative tapestry includes a castle in the Monferrato countryside near Turin, three women, three generations, and a multitude of minor characters. It brings to the fore individual lives and human predicaments, personal feelings and universal themes. The lives of the three main characters, apparently ordinary, but actually tragic in their inexorable degradation, are placed in a coral context that includes: the castle dwellers and the villagers, industrial entrepreneurs and socialist agitators, stars of the silent screen and working girls, American officers in WWI, fascist thugs and victims of the regime, a rogue and an honest prostitute, a singer of the Neapolitan varieté, a Russian prince, a descendant of Sir Walton the pirate, a band of partisans, a populist priest, and even a domestic leopard.

The narrator, who is herself a character, claims an approximate knowledge of facts, which she gathered from personal memories, stories heard from various people, documents and letters, supplemented by the imagination where evidence was lacking. Most of all, it was the photos from the “family album” that stirred her imagination. The use of various languages and dialects very effectively adds sound to the images.

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© Photos by Achille Bologna, Private Collection