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THE ROAD TO THE CITY by Natalia Ginzburg
Translated by Frances Frenaye
At seventeen, Delia is hoping to escape her claustrophobic life. There is no future in her small village. Job prospects are slim. Her parents veer between unpleasantly domineering and downright abusive. It seems marriage is the only way out. Delia knows little about love, and is struggling to navigate her dawning sexuality, much to the lascivious delight of the local boys. She mistakes predatory attention for affection, and is raped by Giulio, a wealthy medical student. When she falls pregnant, their marriage is contracted and her fate seems sealed. Her heart, however, lies with Nini, her poor, studious distant cousin in whom she has confided and sought solace since childhood.
Had it been written by a Russian great, The Road to the Country would have been five hundred pages long. Ginzburg’s brilliance is to distill such emotional complexity into a small fraction of that. The economy and simplicity of her prose belies an uncanny insight into the workings of the human heart, as well as the cultural mores and familial expectations that can rip said heart to shreds. Long may her renaissance continue.
The Road to the City by Natalia Ginzburg (Tr. Frances Frenaye)
Daunt Books, 2018