I didn’t know much about this book when I started reading it.
Actually, I did this on purpose. I had read so many positive comments about the book that I decided to give it a go without doing much research about it. I just wanted to dive in and enjoy it. And that’s exactly what happened!
The book is very short, just a bit more than 120 pages, so I have read it very quickly because I just couldn’t put it down. The writing is really good and the story is captivating, so I can easily say that this is a real page-turner. But let me tell you more about the book.
Domenico Starnone is a writer and journalist from Naples. He has worked as a school teacher and many of his books revolve around his experience with students and school life. Two very famous Italian movies, La scuola by Daniele Lucchetti and Denti by Gabriele Salvatores are based on his books.
But he is also the object of a lot of gossiping: first, they said that he was the writer behind Elena Ferrante and then, a couple of years ago, a journalist said that his wife Anita Raja was actually Elena Ferrante. I am not interested in knowing who Elena Ferrante is, I only know that Domenico Starnone is a well-respected Italian writer and I wanted to read a book by him.
As I always do with the books I read for this blog, I have looked for a title that has an English translation as well and I have found Ties, which is the English version of Lacci, translated into English by the great Jhumpa Lahiri (by the way, I have written a post on her great book about learning Italian).
As I said, I didn’t know much about the book but I had read many positive reviews, so I decided to read it without doing much research about it. And the book didn’t disappoint, at all. I can honestly say it is one of the best contemporary Italian books I have read recently.
The story is very simple but I don’t want to say much about it because I don’t want to spoil anything (one of the biggest pleasures of the book was discovering the story little by little, page after page). Let me just tell you that it is the tale of a marriage and of a family told by the wife and mother first, then by the husband and father, and lastly by the kids.
So, the same life, the same events are seen from three different points of view. This makes the book a great reflection on family ties – you’ll then understand why the book is called Ties – and on the magma of feelings that lie behind the surface of the series of common life events that involve parents and kids.
The book is short and concise and this makes it extremely powerful. There is no extra material, no useless words or events, you just go to the core, to the bare essential and this is probably the thing I liked the most about the book. It is as if all the words used are just the ones needed to tell the story and to let readers understand what is happening.
As you may understand, I have really liked the book. The topic is really powerful and makes you think a lot about personal relationships and about how our actions have influences on other people’s lives we may not be completely aware of. It is also a reflection on the weight of the emotional baggage we carry in our lives, as parents, sons, daughters, life partners.
After finishing the book, I started doing some research about it and learned that there are similarities with Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment – which is what started all the gossiping, probably – but I haven’t read that book, so I just enjoyed this one with a fresh mind. Maybe Ferrante’s book will be my future read for this blog section about Italian readings.
So, I really recommend this book if you are looking for a great example of contemporary Italian literature and a very engaging story about family, bonds, and relationships.
Have you read this book? Let me know your opinion about it!
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