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Portrait of a Family with a Fat Daughter

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Length: 304 pages5 hours

Summary

'It has been a long while in Italian fiction since such an authentic and engaging voice has appeared.' Bruno Quaranta in La Stampa 'This memoir of four generations of a family provides a vivid and eloquent picture of Italian life stretching from the late 19th century, when the peasant lifestyle had changed little from medieval times, up to the consumer culture of the 1950s. It’s a saga that embraces characters like Maria, who emigrated to the USA for an unwise marriage, returning a few years later with a daughter and paralysis down one side of her body, and the author’s father, Angelo, a feckless chap who was interned in a German POW camp. In writing about her female-dominated family, some of whom she is old enough to remember – most notably the matriarchal grandmother Ninin – Giacobino imbues her account with a real sense of intimacy. She has a powerful feel for traditional Italian culture, her early chapters conjuring up a time when the hierarchy of the family was the only true reality, fairness was unknown and “a moment’s tenderness must last a week”. Alastair Mabbutt in The Herald 'An epic novel, which is the story of an Italy which no longer exists, becomes the portrait of a family. It is a novel which touches the heart.' Valeria Parrella in Grazie Beautifully and sympathetically evoking the intense world of working-class Turin, this story is a pleasure to read. The Catholic Herald '... well written and a fascinating read. I learned a great deal about aspects of Italian social history through the eyes of this one family. The translation is clever too, trying to keep a flavour of Piedmontese dialect while making sure English-speaking readers are not alienated by the use of too many foreign words. The characters are all vividly portrayed, from Ninin’s drunken and predatory grandfather, to the various aunts, and down to happy-go-lucky dog Pucci. .' The Historical Novel Society Review A warm and direct story, memorable for its vivid description and depth of cultural understanding. Thomas Tallon in The Tablet 'It's like a rural version of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan saga . It’s a powerful and atmospheric record of largely unexplored terrain.' Margaret Drabble's Book of the Year in The Times Literary Supplement

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