The Beautiful Summer by Cesare Pavese
A Beautiful Summer was recommended in Waterstones weekly email. At the moment I get a lot of the recommendations from the email they send out and having only been to Italy three months ago, I am still obsessed with all things Italian.
Written in 1949 and translated from Italian to English, A Beautiful Summer tells the story of Ginia and Amelia. The young girls don’t really have a care in the world. The things they do hone in on and worry about are the trival things you obsess about at that age. This is what Cesare Pavese so brilliantly captures – I remember at that age not really having a care about the bigger picture and not seeing the consequences of actions. Instead I would worry about trival things, a fly away comment, that in the grand scheme of things was not remotely important.
Although not set in Florence, the novel had me dreaming of those old cobbled streets and old artsy buildings.
I have to admit I enjoyed the beginning and the ending but lost it a bit in the middle. I’m not sure if there was enough to keep me entertained. It felt like one of those books I would have been made to read at uni and one which my lecturers would have gone mad over.
For once I read the introduction (this was by Elizabeth Strout) having background on the author gave more substance to the novel for me.
It’s a nice artsy novel however I don’t know if I’d be reaching for it again.
The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana
So I’ve read my 6473838 thriller of the year. In comparison to others I’ve read The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana sits in the middle however it’s not to be dismissed as a bad novel and is definitely worth a read.
The book flits between present day and 1982. Anna is in her hometown for her mother’s funeral and to sort through her family home and late father’s business. Anna rarely visited her mother in her final years and the relationship between the two is incredibly fractured and via flashbacks we learn why.
Anna and her sister Gabriella were incredibly close growing up, that is until Gabriella goes missing. She just vanishes and no one can offer any clues as to what happened. Anna becomes the ‘girl who has the missing sister’ and her parents completely fall apart. Anna is given food and comfort from relatives but nothing compares to the longing and desire to know what happened to her sister. The event tears the family apart and their father suffers a fatal heart attack in the woods looking for Gabriella.
Edward Lilly and his family have recently moved to the village and not much is known about them. Edward is stern and unwelcoming and his children, Martha and Lydia are shunned by their classmates for their peculiar nature. But it’s Martha who turns out to be the missing link in the mystery of Gabriella’s disappearance.
By sorting through her parents stuff, Anna uncovers the secret that Edward Lilly was really Gabriella father and as Martha was one if the last people to see Gabriella alive Anna forces Martha to tell her what really happened on that awful day. Edward and Gabriella had a disagreement and Gabriella told him that she wanted to be with her family, not him. He took her into the house where his wife murdered Gabriella and buried her in the garden. This isn’t Edward’s first murder and the tradegy is he cannot be brought to pay for his crimes having died some years earlier.
This is a good book and defitnitely one you could devour of a summer afternoon.