Let me start with the physical side of this book. I was very pleasantly surprised when I got it, because it is one of those rare cases of a paperback printed on a very nice paper. It was a pleasure to touch and read.
The book is divided into four parts, first three are narrated by the participants of the story, the fourth by an omniscient narrator. The book focuses on Francesca, but we get to know her listening to the voices of people she interacted with: her cousin Elena, her first husband Massimo and her subsequent partner Marco. By telling us about Francesca they also tell us a lot about themselves. They all seem pretty egoistic and not very likeable and all of them have to go back and reassess how they perceived Francesca and to which extent they formed her as a person.
The is not much plot in the book, it is very focused on the internal voices of the characters. The tone changes with every person, for example I found Marco extremely annoying, which is a good thing in a book, he felt real enough to be irritating.
It was very interesting how differently Elena, Massimo and Marco perceived Francesca, they had completely different images of her in their minds. We never get to know Francesca’s point of view, only how she is perceived by others. It made me think about how the way people see us may wildly vary from who we think we are. I am a quite shy person and not very talkative around people I don’t know, because of that at some point in my life I have been told that I come across as arrogant and thinking of myself as better than others, that was a real surprise. Because of that while reading this book I had this constant thought at the back of my mind ‘Do I really find out anything about Francesca?’
Another interesting aspect was the family power play, how Elena, Massimo and Marco were confident that they formed Francesca as a person and that this is the way it should be. To what extent do other people usurp the right to influence us? How about us, how much are we interfering into other people’s lives?
In just under a hundred pages it is a short book, but this makes it stronger. It conveys its message without any distraction or rambling. One really has to admire such self control in an author.
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Thanks to the Authoright and Clink Street Publishing for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.