At Caffè Letterario in Bra you can read “Oliva Denaro” by Viola Ardone (Einaudi, 2022) –

For those who visit the literary café online, the novels suggested by the poet Bernardo Negro from Bra are truly a guarantee.

Are you curious about his next review? Here you are happy.

“Oliva Denaro” by Viola Ardone (Einaudi, 2022) is a novel that does not end after the last page. To write, even before the story, for the network of emotions intertwined in the dark. For that glimmer of light, very faint or maybe not, that we just have to hold on to. And if a book leaves us with this feeling of “wanting more”, then it has hit the target.

We are in Martorana, a small town in Sicily, where the Denaro family lives. Amalia and Salvo are the parents of Cosimino, Fortunata and Oliva. We are in the early sixties and they live with a bit of a dry archaic Sicily. Fortunata, who became pregnant with Musciacco, the mayor’s nephew, marries under oppression and bullying. The father is the most careful in the family. The few words he says are carved in wisdom, like his slow, natural movements.

However, Oliva’s marriage to Franco, an unhappy boy suffering from progressive blindness, fades. She understands this and might accept it, but too many conflicts arise. It is inevitable that Oliva has an uncontrolled sympathy for the city’s confectioner, the handsome Paternò, who exploits her in the midst of violence and seduction.

He would be willing to “make amends”, but she refuses and her friend Liliana advises her to resort to justice, which will not agree with her. Oliva’s life changes. She trained and became a teacher in Naples and then, in the 1980s, returned to Martorana finally respected.

Revenge is completely moral. He goes to the patisserie in Paternò to buy a cassata and see how he has aged badly, because the laws of life are often more ruthless than men’s.

The novel has a style that is never elaborated, but imbued with powerful detachments from realism as wise as sharp and sometimes soberly moved. We find that southern story that goes from Giovanni Verga to Corrado Alvaro, up to Elio Vittorini and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.

Not to linger on unnecessary passages, the book means that one also thinks of news, such as the case of Franca Viola, who rejected the kidnapper. It will be for the engaging story, it will be for the agility of the pages, it will be for the passionate descriptions, it will be what it will be, but you will never be able to give it up. We understand each other, right?

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