Unable to rouse a paralyzed chicken, recently widowed Nives has no choice but to call the town veterinarian, Loriano Bottai, an old acquaintance of hers. What follows is a phone call that seems to last a lifetime, a phone call that becomes a novel.
You can hear in that passage the speed with which this novella shifts tones: how it fluidly moves from farce to raw regret. The chicken may have snagged my attention, but what I experienced by the end of Naspini's short novel was Nives' entire life story: the limitations of her horizons as a girl growing up in a certain time in rural Italy; her erotic desires and stupid missteps; her resignation ... ingeniously constructed around the dialogue these characters have with one another that reads like an extended two-character play. Emotions whiplash and the most unexpected of secrets and epiphanies emerge.
A touching, heartfelt novella and Italian author Naspini’s first book available in English, Nives is the reckoning of a woman blindsided by the unexpected. Fans of Elisabeth Egan, Marian Keyes, and Isabel Allende will appreciate the care and compassion Naspini takes with Nives’ journey of self-awareness, self-reliance, and self-acceptance. A delightful story of the muddled, confusing time of love after loss.
With its dependence on dialogue and rising tension as revelations about the characters’ pasts build toward a present-moment crisis, Naspini's short novel feels like a two-character play ... A slim, sharply pointed knife of a novel.