Solitaria by Genni Gunn
This is Genni’s third novel ,she has published other books as well .In solitaria she returns to her native Italy ,she lived there until she was eleven .THE story centres on the Santoro family .Piera the head of the family at the moment ,has to confront the past when her older brothers body appears when a house is being demolished She with draws and communicates only with a Canadian nephew David whilst the other siblings and family members fly in from around the world to find out .The question – what really happen to Vito ? ,every one thought he had run off for a new life in Argentina .So who was Vito ? he was the black sheep of the family a wayward son of the family he had gone away before and returned and then gone off to Argentina .This story takes you into the heart of an italian family shows the inner workings that even thou they are hundreds of miles away at times family is still central to them .Genni said in an interview she used the life and times of her Italian Aunt that grew up in the 1940/50’s the same time as Vito as part of the story for the book whom she interviewed a few years ago about her memories .the action takes place in 2002 in the Adriatic coast of italy .which happens to be where Genni lived when she was younger .
When Vito returned to school, Mamma and Papa’s expectations grew ,but no matter how hard Vito tried ,he was never good enough .Pap got it into his head that Vito was lazy ,and what began as an occasionl cuff on Vito’s ear advanced to full-fledged beatings if Vito did not perform as expected .
We are shown here how hard it was for Vito .
One of the things I love is the way the book has little snippets in it some from cha l’ho visto this is an italian show / internet site from the italian broadcaster RAI a bit like missing or crimewatch here it is to find out what happened to people .So you see screen shots made up as the case progresses .also some invite from another sister Clarissa that is a famous opera singer and diva .The book has a strong set of characters that seemed in some little way to have been drawn from real people ,Vito is the typical black sheep that may have become a prodigal son given time and a chance but he was already cast as a bad un , but had really been murdered all those years ago ,you also get a sense of sign the one grand villa that is the family seat is now in need of some TLC but reminds you of those you’ve seen in many an Italian film . There is a quote on the reverse from an earlier Genni book that said she has a film maker eyes and I totally agree with that view on solitaria I could see a lovely film of this book the flashbacks to the 1940/50s make for great film scripts and scenes . If you love the film cinema Paradiso you will love this book as well .The book was listed on the long list for Canada’s Giller prize (like a Canadian booker prize ) ,the short list is out tomorrow hope it makes it I was so moved by this book .Many thanks to Diana the Canadian publisher that sent me this to review .