I love the novels that have been coming out of Italy the past decade or so and “Don’t Move” by Margaret Mazzantini is no exception. This is a wonderful novel - both heartwarming and severely disturbing at the same time. It’s one of those novels that keep you thinking about it long after you read it.
In the story, a middle-class surgeon has what seems like the “perfect” life. He is successful, is married to a beautiful career woman and has a fifteen year old daughter. Even so, there is something that Timoteo, the narrator, is missing. The novel begins with him learning the disturbing news that his daughter was involved in a motor scooter accident and she is badly injured, her life literally hanging in the balance. While she lies in a coma, Timoteo sits beside her and decides to reveal a dark secret about himself - about the affair he had with a down and out prostitute about a year before she was born. The bulk of the novel is this tale, with Timoteo pouring his heart out to his critically injured daughter, revealing things about himself to her that would be devastating had she been able to actually hear it. You also get the sense that this affair - which straddles the line between being obsessive and unhealthy to being warm and loving - is the first time that Timoteo actually lives. As a reader, you are pulled into this story, and are very disturbed by it, as you follow Timoteo through this trying moment in his life. I won’t give away anything here - this is something that you must read to see and experience for yourself. It is guaranteed to keep you turning the pages, wanting to know how it’s all going to turn out.
The only minor issue I took with this novel was the fact that the character was a man being written by a woman. Not that this, in and of itself, is a problem. It’s been done before many times, but there are moments throughout the story where you can tell it’s being written by a woman. There are certain passages and a certain sensibility that are clearly female - things a man wouldn’t say, or even think. For example: "I lay awake, staring at the wooden ceiling, with no regrets. I had led my wife over the rapids, down through the waterfall of my ghosts, and onto the warm sand, where pleasure flooded her." However, this doesn’t take away from the power of this story. This is one story that will remain with you after reading it. I guarantee it.