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RRP: GBP 14.95
You Save: GBP 1.50
Price: GBP 13.45
ISBN: 978 0 856357 43 5
Imprint: Carcanet Fiction
Published: October 1996
220 x 140 x 12 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Althenopis is a story crowded with women and children. The women are strong, extravagant, solitary, sometimes indolent. It is also the story of a girl seeking out the image of her female destiny.
The novel is autobiographical, based on Fabrizia Ramondino's experience of the Second World War in a village by the sea, where her family took shelter, and of post-war Naples (which the Germans renamed Althenopis during their occupation). The first part of the book recounts a wild, unsupervised childhood, with rich vignettes of character, family and setting: grandmother, mother, eccentric uncle, village square, country feast days. The family's faded gentility sets it beyond the pale of the nouveau riche, but also keeps them aloof from the peasants and fisherman whose freedom the narrator envies.
The family eventually moves back to a changed Naples, and is dependent on the indulgence of relatives, whose portraits are brilliantly drawn. The novel comes to focus on the narrator's relationship with her mother during her gradual decline and death.
In the best-selling German translation (1986) of Althenopis it was subtitled 'the universe of a childhood'. At the heart of that universe is a cooling star, a family in decline.
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