Damn these Italians! There’s something going on there lately and I’d love to learn the secret. Here is yet another fantastic novel coming from Italy that knocked me for a loop. A superbly written, thoughtful, entertaining and sometimes “deep” novel that will have you thinking about its themes long after you finish reading this. This, again, was one of those “chance” finds and I’m glad I picked this up and read it. It is one of those contemporary novels that are so desperately needed in American literature these days, in my opinion, of course. As far as I know, this is one of the two or three by this author that has been translated into English and the easiest one to get a hold of. By all means, do so. It is truly a wonderful book.
The story centers around the narrator, Pietro, who along with his brother, rescue two drowning women. What Pietro doesn’t know is as he’s saving the life of one woman, his “wife” had died at their summer home, in front of their young daughter. As the school year begins and Pietro drops his daughter off at school, he makes the decision to wait outside for her - each and every day, forsaking his job, in which his company is going through a shady merger. As the weeks pass, the small parking lot in front of the school becomes something of a refuge as well as a place where his friends and colleagues come to relieve their own suffering. As Pietro delves deeper and deeper into his life, a truth is revealed, one that had been in front of him all along.
But you have to look well past the basic “plot” of the novel in order to feel its full impact. It’s the interaction between Pietro and his daughter, his brother, his sister-in-law and coworkers that reveal an enormous amount of depth about contemporary life.
There are some uncomfortable truths here - about how we relate to one another, how we encounter death and the grieving process and what we learn about ourselves once we begin going deep into our own lives.
This is an absolutely wonderful novel and Veronesi is definitely an author to watch. Highly recommended.