The Church of Solitude Paperback – Aug 15 2002
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From Library Journal
Italian author Deledda left over 60 works when she died in 1936, shortly after this novel was published. Though the prolific author won the Nobel prize in 1926, she was largely unrecognized in her homeland. This work is the story of Maria Concezione, a Sardinian seamstress who, at 28, undergoes surgery for breast cancer, the disease that killed the author. It is the beginning of the 20th century, and Concezione lives with her mother, Maria Giustina. After her diagnosis, Concezione eschews thoughts of marriage and a future and resigns herself to tending the small church built by her grandfather to atone for his sins. The story reads like a fairy tale, though one turned on its head. Instead of our "princess" being rescued from her fate, she transforms the young men who are suddenly thrust upon her as suitable husbands. But can she turn her back on Aroldo, the young laborer with big dreams for whom she does have feelings? This tale of faith and strength in the face of illness is beautiful. Though written more than 65 years ago, it is still timely, with its portrayal of a woman who lays blame for her disease on her past and her wavering devotion. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. - Bette-Lee Fox, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This tale of faith and strength in the face of illness is beautiful. Though written more than sixty-five years ago, it is still timely, with its portrayal of a woman who lays blame for her disease on her past and her wavering devotion. Library Journal
Benighted, hot-blooded, moving, Grazia Deledda s unjustly forgotten novel about a fiercely proud, fiercely resigned woman struggling with dark truths is a benchmark in the evolution of attitudes toward cancer and sexual passion. Susan Sontag
Concezione s secret nearly destroys the man who loves her in this powerful novel by Grazia Deledda, gracefully translated by E. Ann Matter. Martha King, translator of Cosima by Grazia Deledda
A moving story, simply (even austerely) told, and the translation captures the narrator s strengths. Deledda s short novel is packed with emotions and mystery, with many kinds of love, a fatal illness that can t be named, humor and kindness, greed and lust. The heroine is a compelling figure, at once simple and complex, remote and simpatica. Her world is exotic but her problems are not. Joan Ferrante, Columbia University
The poetic detail of Deledda s prose, and Matter s ability to translate with ease her descriptions of landscape, weather, and seasons, make this a wonderful contribution to the literature of women of Italian background. Mary Jo Bona, author of Claiming a Tradition: Italian American Women Writers
Set in the early part of the last century, before breast cancer was openly discussed, this novel sheds much-needed insight into the mental state and experience of that time period. Rosemarie LaValva, Binghamton University
This translation allows non Italian speaker access to a most important novel by one of Italy s best novelists. Anthony Julian Tamburri, coeditor of From the Margin: Writings in Italian Americana"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"The Church of Solitude" tells the story of a relatively young (28 years old) rural Sardinian woman who has had a mastectomy. Her doctor tells her to take it easy; no emotional involvement, peace and quiet, no overworking, and to expect the disease to return in about 10 years. The author gives us a vivid picture of a completely demoralized woman trying to deal with this reality. She returns home confused about how to approach with the rest of her life. She gets some advice from her priest (focus on serving others) while she is also dealing with the very real desires within her. The book does a good job of examining the conflicting messages of the doctor, the priest, and her own emotions. Oddly, as her self-esteem declines, the number of suitors increases (she has invested well). The competition of her suitors leads to a mystery that helps add an additional level of interest to the book. In a subtley presented way, the heroine, Concezione, is able to realize a direction that will enable her to accommodate the doctor, the priest, and herself.
"The Church of Solitude" was translated by E. Ann Matter and, while I can't comment on the translation, I do appreciate her inclusion of a good biography of the author and some literary observations as well.
I came away from "The Church of Solitude" with an appreciation that God's healing powers don't bring health as much as they bring peace. Health doesn't necessarily heal a troubled mind the way peace can cure an attitude about a troubled body. Grazia Deledda does an excellent job in bringing this out and it is the essential beauty of "The Church of Solitude"