Architect Carmine and translator Ivana were once lovers. Their child died and their relationship ended but now, decades on, both with marriages and children of their own, they are friends. During a bout of pneumonia, Carmine – uneasy in his life of aspiration and materialism – begins to look back over opportunities missed and choices made. Set against postwar social breakdown, the melancholic, quietly dazzling Family elegantly examines the human condition and what brings happiness to a life.
Widow Ilaria has three cats in quick succession, each one disappearing or dying. Living with her brother-in-law Pietro and her teenage daughter and husband, Ilaria shoulders all the housekeeping and cooking. At first comic, but becoming progressively dark, Borghesia is a delicate evocation of one life and the relationships that constrain and define it.
In both novellas, underneath a subtle, stripped-down prose and a rich cast of characters, runs a seam of unhappiness and isolation, as Natalia Ginzburg explores the allure of memories and the complexity of family and relationships.
‘Ginzburg’s beautiful words have such solidarity. I read her with joy and amazement.’ Tessa Hadley
‘[Ginzburg’s] stories have a subtle power that catches you at the end. . . each sings with the characteristic wit and piercing clarity of prose that holds you rapt when you read her work.’ Paris Review Daily
‘These two novellas are suffused with the rigorous wisdom Ginzburg earned through calamity and her determination to persist nonetheless in her work.’ Los Angeles Review of Books