A sophisticated new package for Natalia Ginzburg's classic fiction
This powerful novel is set against the background of Italy from 1939 to 1944, from the anxious months before the country entered the war, through the war years, to the Allied victory with its trailing wake of anxiety, disappointment, and grief.
The city is Rome, the hub of Italian life and culture. The house is Le Margherite, a home where the sprawling cast of The City and the House is welcome. At the center of this lush epistolary novel is Lucrezia, mother of five and lover of many. Among her lovers—and perhaps the father of one of her children—is Giuseppe. After the sale of Le Margherite, the characters wander aimlessly as if in search of a lost paradise.
What was once rooted, local, and specific has become general and common, a matter of strangers and of pointless arrivals and departures. And at the edge of the novel are people no longer able to form any sustained or sustaining relationships. Here, once again, Ginzburg pulls us through a thrilling and true exploration of the disintegration of family in modern society. She handles a host of characters with a deft touch and her typical impressionist hand, and offers a story full of humanity, passion, and keen perception.
Natalia Ginzburg was born in Palermo, Italy in 1916. She was an Italian author whose work explored family relationships, politics during and after the Fascist years and World War II, and philosophy. She wrote novels, short stories, and essays, for which she received the Strega Prize and Bagutta Prize. Modest and intensely reserved, Ginzburg never shied away from the traumas of history, whether writing about the Turin of her childhood, the Abruzzi countryside, or contemporary Rome—all the while approaching those traumas only indirectly, through the mundane details and catastrophes of personal life. Most of her works were also translated into English and published in the United Kingdom and United States. She wrote acclaimed translations of both Proust and Flaubert into Italian. She died in Rome in 1991.
"'The City and the House' is a fine book, subtle and shrewd." —LA Times
"A brief, deft epistolary novel . . . she etches a picture of the bonds that are cast between us, bonds that prove surprisingly tough for seeming so fragile. A writer of understated mastery who deserves an American following." —Kirkus Reviews
"The city is Rome; the house, Le Margherite, a villa in the country outside Rome. Ginzburg's novel consists of a series of letters mainly between Giuseppe, a widowed writer living in Rome; Lucrezia, his ex-lover, who lives at Le Margherite with her husband Piero and their children; Giuseppe's son, Alberico, a homosexual filmmaker; Giuseppe's brother Ferruccio, a professor of biology at Princeton; his wife Anne Marie, also a biologist at Princeton; and Anne Marie's daughter Chantal. In the first letter, Giuseppe discusses his decision to move to America: "I am very happy to be leaving. . . . I am also very sorry to be leaving. I think I shall miss certain people and places I'm strongly attached to." The reader, too, will miss these crazy, mixed-up, very human, exasperating, and endearing characters. Highly recommended." —Library Journal
"This warm-hearted novel is an excellent example of the distinguished Italian novelist and essayist's art." —Publishers Weekly
Praise for Natalia Ginzburg's work
"Clarity, precision and wit mark the work of Natalia Ginzburg." — The New York Times Book Review
"I wish more people would read the Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg." — Mary Gordon, Mother Jones
"Natalia Ginzburg must surely be one of literature's most provocative and moving writers." — Elle magazine
"Realistic, anchored by vivifying detail, crowded with wonderfully vibrant characters, luminous with deep feeling, responsiveness, and sympathy." — Publishers Weekly
"Ginzburg draws her readers into her deceptively charming essays with cascades of alluring, everyday detail, then stealthily broaches moral questions of great weight and complexity. Wryly witty, acutely observant, and unfailingly valiant, Ginzburg is a revelation, a spur, and a joy." — Booklist
"A glowing light of modern Italian literature . . . Ginzburg's magic is the utter simplicity of her prose, suddenly illuminated by one word that makes a lightning streak of a plain phrase. . . . As direct and clean as if it were carved in stone, it yet speaks thoughts of the heart." — The New York Times Book Review