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Ties by Domenico Starnone
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Ties (original 2014; edition 2017)

by Domenico Starnone (Author), Jhumpa Lahiri (Translator)

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814210,756 (3.94)19
Member:Carmenere
Title:Ties
Authors:Domenico Starnone (Author)
Other authors:Jhumpa Lahiri (Translator)
Info:Europa Editions (2017), 144 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Tournament of Books 2018

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Ties by Domenico Starnone (2014)

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This is one of those lovely Europa editions. *sigh* It is a novella, and it is really well done. Nice and tight with fully developed characters in a mere 150 pages. The story is divided into three parts and covers decades in the life of a family of four that has been forever damaged by the father having an affair and leaving. This is not a spoiler - we find this out in the first few sentences of the letter that opens the book. The letter is from a wife writing to her straying husband, and part one is from her (Vanda's) point of view. In the second part, we meet the husband, in the present - many years have passed and the children are grown and off on their own. The husband's narrative takes up the bulk of this novella, and I was stunned by his honesty and his objectivity in bringing us up to date with how the couple went from there (the wife's opening narrative) to here (present day). The final part is the daughter's narrative, and it is alive with anger and hurt and spite. It rings true, and as I caught where the story was going, I could not turn the pages fast enough. There is a bit of a mystery thrown in that surfaces during the father's narrative - I won't say more because I do not want to spoil it, but let's just say that the author does an excellent job of building the tension and then unraveling the truth. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Crazymamie | Jan 24, 2018 |
I love the way this novella is composed. It is divided into three books. The first is written in Vanda's voice in the late 1970's. Mother of two children she weeps for her marriage and all her newly estranged husband, Aldo, has put her and the children through. Her pain is evident and it's heartbreaking. Book Two is in the voice of Aldo spoken in relatively current times. It is when he is faced with a crisis that he ruminates and laments about his life, his choices, his women. Lastly, Book Three gives the reader the point of view of the children, Sandro and Anna. Their adult voices reverberate with the toll a broken and misguided marriage has indelibly left upon their lives.
I was extremely impressed by this novella. Written by Starnone and translated by Jhumpa Lahiri it is partially a mystery, and partially a thought provoking window into a troubled marriage. For such a short story, the characters are well defined and deep. I would not have discovered this book had it not been for the Tournament of Books 2018 long list. Very worthy work to advance. ( )
1 vote Carmenere | Dec 7, 2017 |
This book received extra exposure in the English-speaking world by being translated by Jhumpa Lahiri, who has spoken at length about the experience. This extra bit of publicity got a copy onto the shelves of my local library, so I'm grateful. Lahiri's translation is lovely.

This short novel tells the story of an unhappy family, in the form of three segments, one less than a decade into the marriage, when the husband leaves his wife and two young children for a younger woman. The second and meatiest part of the novel takes place when the couple are in their seventies and a traumatic experience throws old secrets into the open. The third section is the weakest and wraps things up a little too neatly through the eyes of their two now-middle-aged children.

Despite the tidiness of the ending, this was a powerful novel about how the fault-lines in a marriage may be smoothed over and life continued, but how those fractures remain under the surface, ready to reveal themselves at moments of stress. And how parental discord affects children, who have no say in the way things play out but who are nevertheless the people most affected.

This wasn't a cheerful book, but it was compelling and thought-provoking. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Oct 26, 2017 |
Reminds me so much of Elena Ferrante, it makes me wonder if this Husband and Wife help each other with their books ( )
  karinlib | Jul 18, 2017 |
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In case it slipped your mind, Dear Sir, let me remind you: I am your wife.
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Ties is the story of a marriage. Like many marriages, this one has been subject to strain, to attrition, to the burden of routine. Yet it has survived intact. Or so things appear. The rupture in Vanda and Aldo's marriage lies years in the past, but if one looks closely enough, the fissures and fault lines are evident. Their marriage 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.… (more)

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