In this debut novel, which made a splash when released in the author’s native Italy, a young Italian woman recounts the bittersweet life of her eccentric Sardinian grandmother.
Taken to cutting herself and writing passionate love poems to the local boys, the emotional beauty at the center of this brief but powerful debut struggles mightily to find happiness in the traditional island village she calls home. With her story pieced together years later by her granddaughter, it becomes clear that her family looked upon her as a kind of alien, even if she never quite grasped why. After World War I, she reluctantly agrees to marry the displaced widower boarding with her clan. He is a decent man, but emotionally distant, and she does not love him. However, the two find a kind of common ground in the bedroom, and their imaginative couplings make the most of the grandmother’s sexual vitality. But it is not enough, and when she journeys to the mainland to visit a health spa in Cagliari, she meets the Veteran. An elegant gentleman from Milan with one leg, he is also married and seeking treatment for kidney stones. They grow close and begin a passionate affair that becomes the focal point of the grandmother’s life. Back at home, she then gives birth to her only child, a son who grows up to be a gifted classical musician. She continues to pine for the Veteran with equal parts guilt and elation, even as daily life gives her greater comfort. After her death, the granddaughter discovers a book and a letter that reveals additional secrets—and raises additional questions. So was the grandmother delusional, damaged or just misunderstood? The truth lies probably somewhere in the middle, and Agus’ beautifully written tale allows room for a lovely ambiguity. The vivid descriptions of the Sardinian landscape are a fitting complement to the heroine’s conflicted heart.
A lush, haunting portrait of an artist born before her time.