Her side of the story A novel

Alba De Céspedes, 1911-1997

Book - 2023

"Set against the backdrop of fascist Rome, Her Side of the Story is a richly told novel about a woman driven to murder the man she loves"--

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FICTION/Decesped Alba
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Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Decesped Alba (NEW SHELF) Due Dec 22, 2023
New York : Astra House [2023]
Main Author
Alba De Céspedes, 1911-1997 (author)
Other Authors
Jill Foulston (translator)
First edition
Physical Description
pages cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this devastating chronicle of a woman's life, first published in Italy in 1949 and previously appearing in an abridged English version, de Céspedes (1911--1997; Forbidden Notebook) frames her heroine's most intimate struggles within the context of women's discounted status in mid-20th-century Rome. Alessandra, a gifted student, grows up in modest circumstances. Her bureaucrat father is cold and distant. Her beloved mother, Eleanora, is a beautiful pianist who supplements the family income by giving lessons. Alessandra lives for a time with her father's family in the countryside but eventually returns to care for her ailing father after refusing a marriage proposal. While continuing her studies she meets Francesco, a professor with whom she falls profoundly in love. But WWII wreaks havoc in Rome, with bombings by the Allies followed by Nazi occupation. Francesco is deeply involved in the anti-fascist movement, and after they marry, Alessandra, sensing Francesco doesn't love her as much as the cause, risks her life to gain his affection. Reflecting on her restlessness and desperation, she remembers something her mother had told her: "I couldn't get used to a life that was spiritually mediocre or a mediocre love. What good is mediocre love? The street is full of it." Her descent into despair culminates in an irreversible act of violence. The shocking denouement only adds to the impact of Alessandra's indelible voice, which made a formative impact on Elena Ferrante, whose afterword cites the novel as one of her "books of encouragement." De Céspedes's melancholy testament to a hidden life feels timeless and vital. (Nov.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A young woman looks back on her life in Rome before and during the Second World War in this new translation of an Italian novel first published in 1949. Alessandra Corteggiani grows up in a middle-class home, full of romantic longing and shadowed by the memory of a brother who died before she was born. She's tightly attached to her mother, whose artistic ambitions have been reduced to teaching piano and who passes along to Alessandra a well-thumbed copy of Madame Bovary. Like the other mothers in their apartment building, Alessandra's is involved romantically with one of the "younger men of a slightly higher class" who hang around in search of afternoon dalliances. When her mother dies unexpectedly, Alessandra's father sends her to live with his large extended family in southern Italy, though her refusal to accept a proposal from a local farmer--and her strangling of the family rooster--get her booted back to Rome. She spends two years in an "endless, dark tunnel" of office work, university studies, and housework for her father. Then she falls in love with Francesco Minelli, an academic and anti-fascist agitator 11 years her senior, and dedicates herself completely to cultivating the "great love" for which she has always longed--a project which, to Francesco's detriment, he seems only marginally aware of as he continues with his own life and projects through the war and beyond. Readers shouldn't expect much in terms of plot twists. Instead, de Céspedes immerses the reader in the febrile consciousness of a young woman with too much time on her hands and too many overpowering fantasies about a long series of men with agendas of their own. A lavishly detailed critique of romantic ideals and social constrictions. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.