Set in central Italy, during the days immediately following her capitulation to the allies, this winner of the Strega Award is the story of a young peasant girl. Mara, at the start of the book, is in her teens. Possessed of spirit and curiosity, she is none the less limited by her age, surroundings and lack of education. She is , a young and impoverished partisan, who blindly follows a Communist line. In a surge of seal, he commits a murder and is forced into political exile. Years of dreary waiting pass for the hot blooded Mara who lives in the hope that a favorable amnesty will establish a Communist government and restore to her the pleasures she knew with her fiance. Eventually she falls in love with another young man, but her sense of loyalty keeps her true to Bebo, who finally returns, is tried, and sentenced to twenty years of hard labor. Filled with bitterness and frustration, Mara despises the party which has shattered her dreams of youthful sensuality. Only with time does she achieve a more meaningful hope based on the understanding that she has behaved with integrity, that bitterness is of no avail, and that in their mid-thirties, she and Bebo will have their life together. A simple narrative which lacks dramatic impact but which does give a convincing depiction of growth, unhampered by trivia and indulgence.