“Imagine if Jane Austen got angry and you’ll have some idea of how explosive these works are.”
Fuck right off, guy. Emphasis on GUY. Just because Austen characters aren’t slapping and cussing each other out does not mean that they aren’t also filled with the contained rage of being a woman trapped in position- a woman who will do anything to hold onto that scrap while also trying to escape the fate assigned to her by her culture. Fuck right off. Clearly, there is nothing that I love more than being mansplained about women’s anger!
When last we checked in with Lenu and Lila, they were at a dangerous, terrifying, and enormous crossroads. This is the second book in a four-part series, so if you are hoping to stay in the dark as to the actions of these girls and their neighborhood then TURN BACK NOW!
Lila, always ferocious and never predictable, is a married “woman” at the age of 16. Lenu, always self-possessed but never self-assured, is studying towards an unknown end in school. There were multiple points throughout this book where I was astonished and baffled by the behavior of these girls…and then I remembered:
they are GIRLS.
They are passionate, irrational, full of fire and cowed by nothing. They are beaten down- figuratively and literally- by the many forces of post-war Italy, yet they bounce back cold and beautiful as pearls. They are terrified of becoming their mothers, but made of the same iron and wool that twined together to weave their inscrutable mothers in the earlier part of the century. They are done and undone by both boys and men. They are at each other’s throats, yet they’d kill for each other without needing to be asked.
This read left me flustered, sweaty, and overworked. It was beautiful. It was exhilarating. It was infuriating. I need a break before embarking on the third entry.
Also: I am ALWAYS looking for fiction recommendations in mid-century Italy! Fire away!