Nothing can be hidden in a small village, and little is forgiven. In Nino Ricci's Lives of the Saints
, the constricted mores of the villagers of Valle del Sole in the Italian Apennines come into severe conflict with Cristina, a local woman whose husband left for the United States years before and who has been impregnated by a secret lover. Ricci's engaging novel explores, through the eyes of Christina's seven-year-old son Vittorio, the superstition and narrow-mindedness of rural Italy, in a visually rich style that brings to mind the view of Italian life offered in such films as Fellini's Amarcord
or the Taviani brothers' Padre Padrone
Cristina, an independent spirit, sees her life turned into hell by her relatives and neighbours. Vittorio suffers too, although he is befriended by a compassionate teacher and the local goatherd. A grand and brooding pathos emanates from Cristina's difficult relationships with her relatives, but the novel carries a depth of humour as well. When Christina is bitten by a snake and taken to the hospital, the long trip down the mountains in the village's only car and the scene at the crowded hospital are both hysterically funny. Ricci's finely wrought novel spent months on the Canadian bestseller lists when it first appeared in 1990, beginning a trilogy that also includes In a Glass House and Where She Has Gone. --Mark Frutkin
About the Author
Nino Ricci was born in Canada of Italian parentage, and hold both Canadian and Italian nationality. After completing studies at York University in Toronto he taught for four years at a boarding school in Nigeria, then travelled widely though Africa and Europe. He completed graduate studies at Concordia University in Montreal, where he subsequently taught literature and creative writing, and at the University of Florence. He is currently an active member of Canadian PEN. Based in Toronto, Ricci now writes full-time, and has published short stories, articles and reviews. Lives of the Saints, his first novel, won Canada's most prestigious literary prize, the Governor General's Award, as well as the W. H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, and a Betty Trask Award.
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