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A SILENCE SHARED by Lalla Romano
Translated by Brian Robert Moore
Counting the likes of Italo Calvino and Natalia Ginzburg among her fans, it’s hard to believe that Lalla Romano is all but unknown in the English-speaking world. Well, I guess the ripples of the Ferrante-effect stretch far and now, sixty-five years after it was published, we finally have A Silence Shared in excellent English translation by Brian Robert Moore.
As the clouds of war darken over Italy, Giulia finds shelter in Tetto Muratto, an old house in the countryside. There she meets Paulo, a sickly partisan, and his wife Ada. They form a bond, the contours of which shift and blur. At times, Giulia’s husband, Stefano, visits, adding to the tension - be it emotional, sexual, or something else (I couldn’t quite get a handle on it). Glimpses of violence and occupation peek through but Romano is mostly concerned with the interior workings of these four people. Paulo, in particular, is a captivating anchor, his sickness tethering the others to the house.
A Silence Shared is an elusive, almost ethereal novel. Romano’s prose makes for a beautiful fog, but one that I sometimes found hard to cut through. Still, it’s a mesmerising counterpoint to the likes of Moravia or Morante. Thoroughly intriguing.
A Silence Shared by Lalla Romano (Tr. Brian Robert Moore)
Pushkin Press, 2023 (orig. 1957)