THE DESERTER by Giuseppe Dessi


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A short, soberly written Italian novel tells of old Mariangela who does housework for the priest, Don Pietro Coi, but never talks of her two sons presumably killed in the war. When the town suggests erecting a monument to the war dead, Mariangela contributes all the money the priest has saved for her. A monument, she thinks, will put an end to the talk of patriotism, and men who have died for their country. For, it develops, Mariangela's older son Saverio was actually a deserter who had come home secretly to the hills, was nursed by his mother, and confessed to the priest that- in the anger of battle- he had shot his commanding officer. Saverio then died of malaria. Despite the machinations of various post-war factions still alive in the town, the monument is finally raised.... This is an interesting story of post-war Italy, with all its secret grievances and griefs, perhaps too softly told. There is little urgency, anger, or real local color; and in spite of the validity and bitterness of the theme, the action happens too much off-stage or in the past so that the book tends to be sad and true but not striking.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1962
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World