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The Fireflies of Autumn: And Other Tales of…
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The Fireflies of Autumn: And Other Tales of San Ginese

by Moreno Giovannoni

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When I was a girl, one of my favourite books was The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi, translated by Una Vincenzo Troubridge. I still have it, inscribed with my mother’s name and the date, 1960, which means it is one of the very few books that we brought with us to Australia. I loved it because the stories were set in the rural peasant world of Italy after WW2, utterly unlike the urban places I had lived in; because of the humour of the perennial jousts between the Catholic priest and the communist mayor; and because, as the author says on page 15, the people in these stories are true to life and the stories are so true that more than once, after I had written a story, the thing actually happened and one read it in the news.
The Fireflies of Autumn is suffused with the same kind of true-to-life nostalgia, but the author has no rose-coloured glasses. San Ginese is in Tuscany, but this is not the tourist Tuscany that we know today. San Ginese is a place so small and off the tourist trail that Trip Adviser’s 10 Best Things to Do in San Ginese are, with the exception of the church, all somewhere else – in Lucca or Capannori or even in Montecarlo. Giovannoni’s Tuscany is a world of grinding poverty and back-breaking labour, a world where the peasants must take shelter from the warring armies of Germany and America, a world where children suffer and die from preventable diseases, and a world where opportunity only comes if you leave the place where you and all your forebears were born. It’s a world where the rustic sexuality is reminiscent of Zola’s The Earth and the women are either madonnas or whores. The tale of ‘The Adulteress’ will either break your heart or fill you with rage at the double standards entrenched by a church that had no feeling for the people it was supposed to serve.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/07/20/the-fireflies-of-autumn-by-moreno-giovannoni-bookreview/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jul 20, 2018 |
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