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The Lost Father - Marina Warner

Chatto & Windus, 1988, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper.

From the cover: “Like Visconti’s film of The Leopard, this magnificent novel paints in sensuous colours the story of a family. It brings to new life the ancient disparaged south of the Italian peninsula, weakened by emigration, silenced by Fascism.

According to family legend, Davide Pittagora died as a result of a duel. His death is the mysterious pivot around which his grand-daughter, an independent modern woman, constructs an imaginary memoir of her mother’s background and life. She follows the family as they emigrate to New York -where they find only humiliation and poverty — and after their return to Italy in the early 1920s.

The narrator, Anna, works at a beleaguered London museum, gathering and cataloguing contemporary ‘Ephemera’. As she is drawn by the passions and prejudices of her own imagination, we see how family memory, like folk memory, weaves its own dreams. Sisters, daughters, wife and grand-daughter — in their different ways women without men — re-invent the absent Davide. But the central story remains theirs, told with the richness and drama of a Verdi opera: the story of the loving relationship between Caterina and her older sister, plump Rosalba, with her intense capacity for sacrifice; of Davide’s four daughters, ‘the American girls’, and his widow, and their struggles in the Leader’s new Italy; and of Anna herself, and her divergent experience of sex and love.”

302 pages.