Set over ten years in an unnamed town in the Maremma region of Southern Tuscany, this novel tells the story of two families against the backdrop of a rapidly transforming country. The Biagini are local ranchers, while the wealthy Sanfilippi belong to Rome’s upper middle-class. When Sauro, an ambitious rancher, and Filippo, a hedonistic politician, become friends and business partners, the stories of their families become irrevocably intertwined. As an influx of new money—and the excitement that comes with it—invests the town, political allegiances, family loyalties, moral codes, and sexual identities all begin to shift.
Sauro and Filippo, their wives Miriam and Giulia, and the sons Saverio and Luca are the prototypes of the new Italy, ostensibly emancipated from traditional mores, but at the same time, insecure and blinkered. Fifteen-year-old Annamaria, fragile and anxious, struggles to find her place among them and feels overshadowed by the beautiful and confident Lisa. Luckily, a parallel world is taking shape nearby, the Tarot Garden, the monumental sculpture garden created by the French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle. It is in this magical place, through her conversations with the artist, that Annamaria will slowly find a sense of identity and belonging.
Lorenza Pieri is an author, journalist, and translator. She grew up in Tuscany and spent long periods in Paris, Turin, and Rome, where she worked in publishing. She lived for eight years in Washington D.C., where she continued to write about politics and culture for a variety of outlets. Lesser Islands (Europa, 2023) was the winner of numerous prizes and has been translated into six languages. The Garden of Monsters (Europa, 2020) was a finalist for the Strega Prize. Pieri now lives in Milan.