The story of a wealthy, insular Jewish family in Fascist Italy just before the outbreak of World War II. The source of an acclaimed feature film directed by Vittorio De Sica. Translated by William Weaver.A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
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The Garden Of Finzi-Continis based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
I had avoided this book for decades, but i loved it. Baeutiful, wonderful, tragic, charming, pretentious (but why not?), all the praise thats been heaped on it by its fans fits. I can see why it has acquired cult status, but i'm not going to join in, I'm just glad that I finally allowed myself to read it. The intricate social differentiations and sensitivities in the local shul only made sense to me because of what I'd learned from my in-laws. I left my copy (after finishing it) in a budget hotel room in Reykjavik - if anyone ever finds this old yellowing-paged Quartet edition there let me now!
I ran across this book on one of my book group lists on the internet a couple of years ago but like so many books, I bought it and promptly stashed it into the masses to be read at some vague and later date. It can be quite hard to be rescued from this indignity as I forget about these books but this one is apparently a classic of Italian literature and appears on the list of books that could be read for the 1% Well Read Challenge so I headed to my stacks and pulled it out. The story, told from the perspective of a man looking back in time, tells of the Finzi-Contini family, a rich and somewhat reclusive Jewish family in Italy in the years leading up to World War II. The narrator is a young man, a Jew, who comes to be included in the inner sanctum of the Finzi-Continis, first befriending Alberto and Micol Finzi-Contini and then falling in love with the beautiful Micol. The story is an intricate one that balances the growing menace throughout Europe with the insular nature of the Finzi-Contini estate. The novel starts when the narrator is traveling with friends to Etruscan tombs. Their young daughter innocently sends him on a journey through memory to the time that he knew Alberto and Micol and their intriguing, eccentric family. This is not a lighthearted book, even though it details the narrator's growing love for Micol. The future looms too darkly over the Ferrarese Jews, including the Finzi-Contini family for all their seeming unconcern for Hitler and the suddenly enforced racial laws. There is a definite feeling of melancholy and dirge about the book and whether this is original or a function of the translation, it suits the storyline quite well. I won't say this is an easy book; it would be difficult if for no other reason than that we as readers know what inescapable fate is in store for these people but it is also a slow and ponderous book to read. There is much to appreciate but it has to be done slowly and with great deliberation.