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I read this book on the canal, and for a book group which has just started up at work. I'm actually not too sure how long I'll stay in the book group, for two reasons: 1) I didn't feel particularly drawn to any of the other people in it at our initial meetings, and 2) I was in a book group once before in Oxford, and ended up letting it drop because I read so slowly that as soon as I have to read one book a month for a group, I find that I have almost no spare reading time left over to read anything else that I want to read for myself. But I'll give it a proper chance for a few months, anyway. And in the meantime, I count myself better off for having read this as our first group choice.

It's basically the story of a terrible crime, told from the point of view of a nine year old boy who is slightly too young to really grasp the full enormity of what's going on, but nevertheless sees and discovers enough for an adult reader to put together the pieces which his narrative voice can't. This lends a great pathos to the story, because frequently it is quite clear to the reader that the entire quiet-if-impoverished lifestyle which he has known to date is about to be ripped apart - but he does not know this yet, and remains preoccupied with his childish hopes, fears and adventures as everything unfolds around him. I've rarely read a book which carries off a child's-eye viewpoint so convincingly and to such clever effect. The language used, the events emphasised, the emotions experienced, the narrow physical horizons of the story were all entirely those of childhood - and yet an utterly adult story was conveyed by them all the same.

Actually, given the child-like language especially, I rather wished that we were reading it in the original Italian instead of in translation, as I think that the short, simple sentences would have been at just the right level for me. Still, I can always read the Italian version for myself if I want to - and as I say, the English translation is well worth reading.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
owlfish
Sep. 9th, 2007 04:45 pm (UTC)
I saw the movie, presumably based on the book, and it was very powerful.
strange_complex
Sep. 9th, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I didn't know there was a film! Having just looked it up on the IMDb, though, it does seem to be pretty closely based on the book. I'll look out for it next time I am watching films for Italian practice!
(Anonymous)
Sep. 9th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
I've seen the film twice -it is very good! I remember somene across the aisle shooting into the air with fright at one point... my wife's read the book (in the Italian) and says that it's very closely based on the book.
OUr local film club (Cheshire) is showing it next Spring but that's probably a little too far away for you
rosamicula
Sep. 9th, 2007 06:38 pm (UTC)
I loved that book. I found it absolutely gripping and will definitely investigate teh film.
kernowgirl
Sep. 10th, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)
This sounds fascinating! I'll be looking out for a copy of this myself now. Possibly an Italian edition too, although I'd probably be better off reading the English first.
strange_complex
Sep. 10th, 2007 08:32 am (UTC)
Yup, it's definitely worth reading - and I have even managed to write about it in such a way that the plot shouldn't be spoilt for you!
kantti
Sep. 10th, 2007 11:52 am (UTC)
Funnily enough, I was just reading about this yesterday since the Winchester Film Society will be showing the film as part of their schedule this year.
strange_complex
Sep. 10th, 2007 12:02 pm (UTC)
Sounds like destiny has spoken then - you should go!

I've also just found out that it's available in our University library, so the odds of me actually getting round to seeing it myself have just greatly increased.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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