The light words between us

” – But what good is it to be smart?                                                                    – To keep company with myself.”

A caress over two hundred pages long from a mother to her son. This was the feeling that accompanied us in reading. If we want, a pampering already expected, perhaps even too much expected, from the title of the book, but which a reader is always pleased to receive.

The stylistic code adopted for the narration and the accuracy of the chosen words, with a sentimental specific weight, made us feel involved and an integral part of the family dynamics told. The author asks us for support in retracing her experience as a mother over the years, in tracking down the errors, if any, in the education and growth of her only-born Piero. A son not particularly fond of studying, as his father and mother would like, in a middle-upper class family who moved from Cuneo to Milano.

The ups and downs of a normal parent-child relationship are narrated faithfully and with a wide sense of self-criticism, with the specific intention of wanting to recognize one’s limits.

Divided into six chapters, the story is broken by many engravings in which the author proposes private family missives, collected notes and fragments of diaries collected over the years, which have the double advantage of making the reading less heavy, and to give a sharp identikit to the characters of the story.

The sharing of some school writing assessments of Piero during his childhood, help us to better appreciate his vision of the world, and the birth of the various passions over the years, such as that for weapons or for the motorcycle.

From private correspondence what transpires in our opinion, although never explicit, is above all Piero’s love for his parents. A sense of respect from other times. So also the sense of solidarity and respect in a post-war Italy in full reconstruction, traced in some apparently secondary events and behaviors.


Lalla Romano, The light words between us, Einaudi, Torino, 1997

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