The first US publication of two poignant novellas written in the 1940's by eminent Italian novelist Ginzburg (Valentino and Sagittarius: Two Novellas; Family; Family: and Borghesia, Two Novellas, 1988, etc.). Here, Ginzburg explores the bleak hearts of two country girls--one who betrays her true love for bourgeois life, the other a lonely young woman who is betrayed. In ""The Road to the City,"" Delia is one of five country kids who grew up ""like weeds."" She is 17, and dreams of marrying and running off to the city as her sister did at 17. In the meantime, to escape her mother's screeching and her father's sullen neglect, she takes the dusty road to the city almost every day. Accompanied by a brother and her sweetly mysterious cousin Nini, with whom she grew up, she sits in cafÃ‰s and wanders the streets until the lights come up and she has to go home. Delia notes that Nini is different from his adopted family. He reads incessantly, and drinks. When he takes a job in a factory and moves in with a city woman, Delia begins to realize how much he intrigues her. Soon, however, she is pregnant by a country doctor's son. She cares nothing for the fat, stolid chap--but she marries him anyway, seduced by the promise of rich clothes and an apartment in the city. Meanwhile, Nini, who has confessed his love, dies heartbroken in a squalid room. At the start of the second novella, ""The Dry Heart,"" a ""simple country girl"" announces that ""I shot him between the eyes."" Instead of the languor of the first country girl, this unnamed young woman suffered from a naked loneliness that impelled her to marry a rich, 40-ish city man. Although she told herself it didn't matter that he didn't love her, his indifference finally drove her to murder after their baby daughter died. Early work from Ginzburg, with all the hallmarks--understatement, honesty tinged with sadness--of her superb mature style.