“But mom is still young, still alive despite everything.”
This is not a easy book, so don’t approach it thinking you can read it in your spare time. A text that first of all requires a solid basic knowledge of recent Italian history. Without it, one may not be able to put together the constant references to characters and places necessary for the structure of the story, and then again because Loy’s writing always requires a certain degree of concentration, in order to then find the doors open to a next level of knowledge.
The historical period of reference is a classic of the author, encountered in almost all of her works, that of the Second World War; 1941 to be exact when war was still an abstract word in the Italian middle class, and the prophecy of victory was a certainty rather than a hope for a large part of the population. From here start the story of a wealthy Roman family, transported by the happiness of the days of peace relative to the harshness of the days shaped by the wind of war, which rose from Africa to Sicily and then reached the Alps.
Thanks to the cues drawn from the memory of Lieutenant Giovanni Schisano in his diary, as the author declares on the last page of the book, the exact moments are perfectly described in which the oriental charm evoked by the names of the places in North Africa turns off.
It continues until September 8, with the bewilderment spread like wildfire, when old friends become new enemies, and old enemies become new friends, written between the lines of that famous proclamation on which historians still wonder .
After the war comes peace, and a new phase for the various characters and the years of promises of a better tomorrow, which will not be kept, at least not for everyone.
The text mixes the events of great history in a balanced way with those of the small history, that of the everyday life of normal people, who, although unable to decide anything, but who on the contrary suffered the events of great history, with their behavior, unconsciously modify their ‘outcome. Also for this we liked, for memories as independent of our will, every action we take today, has a repercussion in the broad, which we cannot predict, but which our children will experience.
Rosetta Loy, Nero è l’albero dei ricordi, azzurra l’aria, Einaudi, Torino, 2004