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
--This text refers to the
About the Author
Nino Ricci, author of the Lives of the Saints Trilogy, is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, receiving the honour for Lives of the Saints in 1990, and The Origin of Species in 2008. His other awards include the 2002 Trillium Book Award for Testament, and the 2006 Alistair Macleod Award for Literary Achievement. Ricci studied English literature and creative writing at York University and Concordia University, then Italian studies at the University of Florence. He has taught literary studies and creative writing in Canada and abroad, and is a past president of PEN Canada. Ricci was born in Leamington, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto with his wife and children.