So there is no one to whom I can speak the words that most need to be spoken, about the events which most closely concern our family and what has happened to us; I have to keep them bottled up inside me and there are times when they threaten to choke me.
Valentino is the spoiled child of doting parents who have no doubt he will be ‘a man of consequence’. His sisters, however, see him for what he truly is: lazy, apathetic, self-absorbed and far more interested in partying than applying himself to his studies at medical school. His parents’ dreams begin to unravel when, out of the blue, Valentino becomes engaged to the wealthy yet strikingly ugly Maddalena. The family is scandalised by his choice of bride – and suspicious of his motives.
In Valentino, class, social expectations, wealth and marriage come under Natalia Ginzburg’s forensic scrutiny, her unflinching moral realism and her keen psychological insight resulting in a work of quiet devastation.
‘A story as devastating as it is hilarious.’ Alexander Chee
‘In her finely drawn world, people are multidimensional, situations are often unpredictable, and nothing is ever as clear cut as we might hope it to be.’ Kat Lister, The i
‘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 stroke 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
‘The raw beauty of Ginzburg’s prose compels our gaze. First we look inward, with the shock of recognition inspired by all great writing, and then, inevitably, out at the shared world she evokes with such uncompromising clarity.’ Hilma Wolitzer
‘[Ginzburg’s] observations are swift and exact, usually irradiated by an unruly and often satirical humor. The instrument with which she writes is fine, wonderfully flexible and keen, and the quality of her attention is singular. The voice is. . . entrancing and alarming, elegantly streamlined by the authority of a powerful intelligence.’ Deborah Eisenberg, The New York Review of Books