A couple, married with two young kids, is in crisis in 1970s Naples in Starnone's (First Execution, 2009) prizewinning, thirteenth novel. We learn of Aldo's estrangement from his family through the letters his wife, Vanda, writes to him then, before the novel quickly shifts to Aldo's narration of the present day. He and Vanda are together; their children are grown—if reluctantly; and Aldo has achieved enough success to, combined with Vanda's relentless penny-pinching, afford them a beautiful home in Rome. They return from a week's vacation to find their apartment ransacked, the pieces of their life literally broken and scattered on every surface. Their minimal valuables are still there, but Vanda is bereft that their beloved cat is gone, while Aldo discovers, to his horror, that the beautiful box where he kept private, tender remembrances of his betrayal is now empty. Both a whodunit and a who-did-what-when, Starnone's emotional novel of a family's constantly fluctuating sum of its stubborn parts is translated with care and fluency by Pulitzer-winning Lahiri, who wrote her memoir, In Other Words (2016), in Italian. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Aside from fine writing and a relentless plot, this portrait of a marriage has lots recommending it. Starnone (First Execution) has claimed Italy's most prestigious literary honor, the Strega Prize; this book won the Bridge Prize, given jointly by the U.S. Embassy in Rome and the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC; and the translator is Pulitzer Prize winner Lahiri. The narrative opens as a cri de coeur from Vanda, abandoned by husband Aldo for a younger woman; leaps several decades to Aldo's reflections on why he left and why he returned four years later; and ends with the couple's adult children venting their spleen. The overly dramatic Vanda claims a need to understand, while the rather spineless Aldo reveals that he could not let go of the exhilaration born of new love, even as he saw he was hurting his family (what a lousy father). And though he cannot relinquish the past, Aldo also can't see himself in the scrawled letters he left from that time. VERDICT A scalding and incisive display of damage done and people missing their mark.. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
"In case it's slipped your mind, Dear Sir, let me remind you: I am your wife." Vanda writes this to her husband, Aldo, who hasn't come home for six days. It's Naples, 1974, and Aldo and Vanda married young, and now, when intellectuals have decided that "fidelity is a virtue of the petty bourgeoisie," they're stuck. Or she is: Aldo has found love and happiness, and stays gone for four years. We learn that in the second section of the book, its longest, narrated by Aldo after the apartment he and Vanda share has been broken into and trashed, their beloved cat disappeared. Although they reunited decades ago, Vanda and Aldo are still furious, and as he sorts through his demolished possessions, Aldo tells his side of the affair. The problem is that he tells and tells, displaying little self-awareness and seemingly expecting sympathy he may not have earned. Anna, Vanda and Aldo's daughter, middle-aged and scarred, like her feckless brother, by the breakup and the resumed marriage, is no picnic either—angry, manipulative, greedy. Though Starnone's willingness to let his characters—particularly Aldo—incriminate themselves can be read as writerly confidence, the novel, despite being slim, feels long. (Mar.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.
Vanda and Aldo share a marriage that has survived a rupture years in the past, but the strain from that initial event has left fault lines in a relationship that threatens to fall to pieces at the slightest provocation.Review by Publisher Summary 2
When her husband, who left her for a younger woman, returns home for the sake of the children, a woman, forced to carry on as if nothing ever came between them, wonders if she has the strength to overcome the betrayal or the courage to start over. Original.Review by Publisher Summary 3
A New York Times Notable Book of the YearA Sunday Times and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the YearTranslated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, Ties is a compulsively readable and provocative novel about marriage and family by one of Italy's bestselling novelists.Like many marriages, Vanda and Aldo's has been subject to strain, to attrition, to the burden of routine. Yet it has survived intact. Or so things appear. The rupture in their marriage lies years in the past, but if one looks closely enough, the fissures and fault lines are evident. It is a cracked vase that may shatter at the slightest touch. Or perhaps it has already shattered, and nobody is willing to acknowledge the fact. Domenico Starnone's thirteenth work of fiction is a powerful short novel about relationships, family, love, and the ineluctable consequences of one's actions. Known as a consummate stylist and beloved as a talented storyteller, Domenico Starnone is the winner of Italy's most prestigious literary award, The Strega. Winner of The Bridge Prize for Best Novel 2015Review by Publisher Summary 4
The Strega Award–winning Italian author’s “scalding and incisive” novel of marriage and family bonds that come undone in the wake of an affair (Library Journal, starred review).
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Sunday Times and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
Winner of the 2015 Bridge Prize for Best Novel
Italy, 1970s. Like many marriages, Vanda and Aldo’s has been subject to strain, attrition, and the burden of routine. Yet it has survived intact. Or so things appear. The rupture in their marriage lies years in the past, but if one looks closely enough, the fissures and fault lines are evident. It is a cracked vase that may shatter at the slightest touch. Or perhaps it has already shattered, and nobody is willing to acknowledge the fact.
Domenico Starnone’s thirteenth work of fiction is a powerful short novel about relationships, family, love, and the ineluctable consequences of one’s actions. Known as a consummate stylist and beloved as a talented storyteller, Domenico Starnone is the winner of Italy’s most prestigious literary award, the Strega.
“The leanest, most understated and emotionally powerful novel by Domenico Starnone.”—The New York Times