THE CITY AND THE HOUSE | NATALIA GINZBURG

I decided to join A Public Space (#APStogether) in their readings this year, a virtual book club that posts comments on the assigned reading via Twitter. This was the first book of 2021 and my introduction to Ginzburg’s work. This piece in The New Yorker was also a sort of introduction. I did this because it forces me to read books I might otherwise not. Not easy, when my TBR pile is as tall as Mount Vesuvius.

This is an epistolary novel full of narcissistic, frustrated, depressed, whiny cast of characters. The city is Rome and the house is a country house at which these friends and family members gather weekly. When the house sells, their lives become even more fragmented. It took me quite a while to get into the book, confused as I was about who was writing to who and about whom. It just felt gossipy and bitchy. But then the voices crystallized, the vulnerabilities and quirks began to make sense and small intimate details about each character rose to the surface to complete the picture. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but I did enjoy it by the end and am glad for my introduction to this Italian writer who is not as well known in AmeriKKKa as some of her compatriots.