Publishers Weekly: "Levi's crystalline prose gradually generates an emotional groundswell of unexpected intensity."
Date: Aug 3 2009
Levi subjects love to the inexorable tides of history in this articulate and resonant novel. In 1930s fascist Rome, Dino Carpi encounters Sonia Gentile when she breaks her leg at his parents' hotel on New Year's Eve, and as the Italians say, it's amore a prima vista. But their burgeoning relationship appears mortally wounded when Sonia discovers that Dino is Jewish. Sonia's father is a devout Catholic and well-connected supporter of Il Duce. Faced with the possibility of losing the object of his ardor, Dino enters into a compromise with Sonia's father in which he effectively denies his heritage in order to secure her hand. At first merely anxious about the personal implications of this bargain, the real consequences for the couple, their extended families and their young son Michele become increasingly harrowing as the Fascist regime imposes evermore restrictive laws on Italian Jews. The historical milieu performs admirably as the catalyst for a shrewd meditation on love's spectrum, from turbulent passion to petty jealousies. Though the beginning is slow going and disordered, Levi's crystalline prose gradually generates an emotional groundswell of unexpected intensity. (Sept.)