Synopses & Reviews
For Alessandro Giullani, the young son of a prosperous Roman Lawyer, golden trees shimmer in the sun beneath a sky of perfect blue. At night the moon is amber and the city of Rome seethes with light. He races horses across the country to the sea, and in the Alps he practices the precise and sublime art of mountain climbing. At the ancient university in Bologna he is a student of painting and the science of beauty. And he falls in love. His is a world of adventure and dreams, of music, storm, and the spirit. Then the Great War intervenes.
Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, still tall and proud, finds himself unexpectedly on the road with an illiterate young factory worker. As they walk toward Monte Prato, a village seventy kilometers distant, the old man tells the story of his life. How he became a soldier. A hero. A prisoner. A deserter. A wanderer in the hell that claimed Europe. And how he tragically lost one family and gained another.
The boy is dazzled by the action and envious of the richness and color of the story, and realizes that the old man's magnificent tale of love and war is more than a tale: it is the recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and above all, a love song for his family.
"Extraordinary...a vast, ambitious, spiritually lusty, all-guzzling, all-encompassing novel." The New York Times Book Review
"Intense, memorable...magnificent...a massive, soaring novel of ideas and ordeals." Entertainment Weekly
"A rousing tale...riotous energy and sustained brilliance....Helprin lights his own way, in his own singular direction." Time
"[E]nergetic, often lyrical prose capable of poetic images of great intensity, coupled with an antic imagination unleashed in scenes of high adventure and bizarre and droll events....[A] gripping, poignant and universally relevant moral fable." Publishers Weekly
"This rousingly good story of survival is all the more remarkable in the telling. The language is rich without cloying, complex yet luminous in Helprin's best style....Highly recommended." Library Journal
An old man's magnificent tale of love and war a recapitulation of a life and a reckoning with mortality told by one of America's most acclaimed novelists.
From the bestselling author of Winter's Tale comes a novel that encompasses the horror of war and the triumph of love. A septuagenarian war hero and scholar recalls his most terrible adventure: World War I, a surreal parade of horrors that devastated and defined his existence.
From acclaimed novelist Mark Helprin, a lush, literary epic about love, beauty, and the world at war
Alessandro Giuliani, the young son of a prosperous Roman lawyer, enjoys an idyllic life full of privilege: he races horses across the country to the sea, he climbs mountains in the Alps, and, while a student of painting at the ancient university in Bologna, he falls in love. Then the Great War intervenes. Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, tall and proud, meets an illiterate young factory worker on the road. As they walk toward Monte Prato, a village seventy kilometers away, the old man—a soldier and a hero who became a prisoner and then a deserter, wandering in the hell that claimed Europe—tells him how he tragically lost one family and gained another. The boy, envying the richness and drama of Alessandro's experiences, realizes that this magnificent tale is not merely a story: it's a recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and above all, a love song for his family.
About the Author
Mark Helprin is the author of A Dove of the East and Other Stories, Refiner's Fire, Ellis Island and Other Stories, Winter's Tale, and Memoir from Antproof Case. He has been honored with the Jewish Book Award and the Prix de Rome for his works. He lives in upstate New York.
Table of Contents
i. Rome, August 1
ii. Race to the Sea 94
iii. His Portrait When He Was Young 211
iv. The 19th River Guard 249
v. The Moon and the Bonfires 297
vi. Stella Maris 388
vii. A Soldier of the Line 490
viii. The Winter Palace 634
ix. La Tempesta 733
x. La Rondine 782