The city is Rome, the hub of Italian life and culture. The house is Le Margherite, a home where the sprawling cast of The City and the House is welcome. At the center of this lush epistolary novel is Lucrezia, mother of five and lover of many. Among her lovers—and perhaps the father of one of her children—is Giuseppe. After the sale of Le Margherite, the characters wander aimlessly as if in search of a lost paradise.
What was once rooted, local, and specific has become general and common, a matter of strangers and of pointless arrivals and departures. And at the edge of the novel are people no longer able to form any sustained or sustaining relationships. Here, once again, Ginzburg pulls us through a thrilling and true exploration of the disintegration of family in modern society. She handles a host of characters with a deft touch and her typical impressionist hand, and offers a story full of humanity, passion, and keen perception.
Natalia Ginzburg was born in Palermo, Italy in 1916. She was an Italian author whose work explored family relationships, politics during and after the Fascist years and World War II, and philosophy. She wrote novels, short stories, and essays, for which she received the Strega Prize and Bagutta Prize. Modest and intensely reserved, Ginzburg never shied away from the traumas of history, whether writing about the Turin of her childhood, the Abruzzi countryside, or contemporary Rome—all the while approaching those traumas only indirectly, through the mundane details and catastrophes of personal life. Most of her works were also translated into English and published in the United Kingdom and United States. She wrote acclaimed translations of both Proust and Flaubert into Italian. She died in Rome in 1991.