These days I’ve been reading an Italian book that has recently won an important prize here in our country, “Il Premio Strega”. It is a melancholic, but beautiful, short novel by Tiziano Scarpa, STABAT MATER. It is set in Venice at the end of the 17th century but it really seems not to have time or space . Unfortunately, if you are not Italian or can’t read Italian, you must wait for a translation which has been planned but not yet done.

Now, I’d suggest to you to start the music in the player here below and, only after doing that, read my short review.

You’ll understand why. Hope you'll enjoy it.

It’s night, the orphanage is plunged in silence, darkness and sleep. All the girls sleep, apart form one, Cecilia, 16 years old. During the day she plays the violin in the church, behind the impenetrable thick grating which gate the believers out of her life , impeding them even to see the girl's face. At night she feels lost in her deep solitude, gets up and secretly gets to her hidden place where she writes to the most intimate but at the same farthest person in her life: the mother who abandoned her in that asylum, the Ospedale della Pietà di Venezia.
Music is to her a routinely habit as many others, a dull repetitions of sounds. But Cecilia feels and writes: “The world wants us to be silent”. In her lyrical and philosophical nocturnal reflections she has also another addressee, her own Death, who appears to her as a black-snike haired woman she doesn’t fear at all.
But one day things start slightly and slowly changing: a young music teacher and composer arrives to substitute old Don Giulio. He is a young priest, with a big nose and copper hair. His name is Antonio. Antonio Vivaldi.
Thanks to her complex stormy relationship with music, Cecilia will find her way with an unexpected choice of rebellion, freedom and self-determination.
Good story, isn't it? And very well written, too.
I’m stunned at the writer’s ability in feeling such distant (to him) desperate loneliness and conveying it to us with so much strength and sympathy.
I particularly liked these lines among others: ( my translation from Italian ) “Since I was born I’ve had to do what I’m told in here, so all the things which counts to my heart, I must be able to put them in the small spaces left, in the small empty cavities left by chance”. This is writing to her: completely alone at night, on pieces of papers already written shrivelled and thrown away by the nuns or the girls ... in the small white spaces left... to a mother always dreamt about and never really experienced.

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Stephanie Allen said...

This sounds like a beautiful book. Hopefully they translate it into English so I can read it!

Maria Grazia said...

@ I really hope so. Last year winner of "Il Premio Strega" has been translated into different languages and that too is a very beautiful one: "The solitude of the Prime Numbers" by Paolo Giordano. See if you can find it in English, it has been published in the UK in 2009. I loved it.
P.S. Have a look here

lunarossa said...

Great suggestion, MG. I'll get it next time I come to Italy, possibily in october. The music is fab, as all Vivaldi of course. My husband got me the English translation of La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi for my birthday without realizing that I had already read it in Italian some time before! He's reading it himself now. All the best. Ciao. A.

Lucy said...

What a wonderful treat- I'd love to read this book! Thanks for this fantastic review and heads-up!
I love everything Venetian, and I also wrote a post on l'Ospedale. If you'd like you can check it out here: http://enchantedbyjosephine.blogspot.com/2009/04/speaking-of-vivaldi.html
Wonderful post-thans!

Maria Grazia said...

Patience Antonella! Your husband was so kind, anyway. I hope he'll like the novel - my husband read it too last summer but... didn't like it at all. We've got such different tastes as for movies and books! Have a great weekend (and better weather, I hope!)
@Ms. Lucy
I read your post and...great! that's exactly historical background and setting of the novel. I hope they'll translate it. I think you'd like it.
I'll link your post to mine, if you don't mind.
Thanks for your visit and contribution, Lucy.

Luciana said...

Such a nice review! And I LOVE Vivaldi! I'll look for more about it! I hope they translate it to Portuguese, or at least to English!

Elvira said...

I love Vivaldi too, and the story sounds very promising. Thanks for the review, Maria Grazia!!

Maria Grazia said...

Yes,I remember I found Vivaldi's music on your beautiful blog some time ago. Thanks for commenting. Hasta pronto!Abrazos.

London Belle said...

that book sounds beautiful.

I love classical music - it would be amazing to be able to play that myself. Thanks for the post.

Maria Grazia said...

@London Belle
I love classical music too but I've never been able to play any instrument. I studied opera singing for many years and sang in a choir for 15 years. Then I stopped when I had my first son and started working regularly as a teacher. You are still young, though. You can still learn! Which is you favourite instrument? I'd have liked to play the viola or cello.