Synopses & Reviews
Two novels about family life and fraudsters by one of the twentieth century's best Italian novelists.
Valentino and Saggitarius are two of Natalia Ginzburg's most celebrated works, tales of love, hope, and delusion that are full of Ginzburg's characteristic mordant humor, keen psychological insight, and unflinching moral realism. Valentino is the spoiled child of doting parents, who have no doubt that their handsome young son will prove to be a man of consequence. Nothing that Valentino does--his nights out on the town, his failed or incomplete classes--suggests there is any ground for that confidence, and Valentino's two sisters, one of whom narrates the story, view their parents and brother with a mixture of bitterness, stoicism, and bemusement. Everything becomes that much more confused when, out of the blue, Valentino finds an enterprising, wealthy, and strikingly ugly wife, who undertakes not just to support him but the whole family. Years will pass and life will slip by before the cost of this arrangement to everyone involved becomes clear.
Saggitarius is another story of misplaced confidence recounted by a wary daughter, whose mother, a grass widow with time on her hands, moves from the country to the suburbs, eager to find new friends and a new occupation. Brassy, bossy, and perpetually dissatisfied, especially when it comes to her children, she strikes up a friendship with the mysterious and talented Scilla, who paints and sews elegant dresses for her beautiful red-headed daughter and gossips about her rich friends. Soon the two women are planning to open an art gallery and boutique in the center of town, if they can work out the finances and find the right place. It turns out, however, that knowing better than everyone can hide a truly desperate naivet .