Ferrante, Elena. Translated by Ann Goldstein. The Lost Daughter. Europa Editions, 2008.
Leda is a middle-aged divorcée devoted to her work as an English teacher and to her two children. When her daughters leave home to be with their father in Canada, Leda anticipates a period of loneliness and longing. Instead, slightly embarrassed by the sensation, she feels liberated, as if her life has become lighter, easier. She decides to take a holiday by the sea, in a small coastal town in southern Italy. But after a few days of calm and quiet, things begin to take a menacing turn. Leda encounters a family whose brash presence proves unsettling, at times even threatening. When a small, seemingly meaningless, event occurs, Leda is overwhelmed by memories of the difficult and unconventional choices she made as a mother and their consequences for herself and her family.
Vittorini, Elio. Translated by Alane Salierno Mason. Conversations in Sicily. 1941. New Directions, 2000.
Conversations in Sicily begins at a time in the narrator’s life when nothing seems to matter; whether he is reading newspaper posters blaring of wartime massacres, lying in bed with his wife or girlfriend, or flipping through the pages of a dictionary, it is all the same to him––until he embarks on a journey back to Sicily, the home he has not seen in some fifteen years. In traveling through the Sicilian countryside and in variously hilarious and tragic conversations with its people––his indomitable mother in particular––he reconnects with his roots and rediscovers some basic human values.
Di Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi. The Leopard. 1958. Penguin Random House, 2007.
Set in the 1860s, The Leopard tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution. The dramatic sweep and richness of observation, the seamless intertwining of public and private worlds, and the grasp of human frailty imbue The Leopard with its particular melancholy beauty and power, and place it among the greatest historical novels of our time.
Siddons, Anne Rivers. The Girls of August. Grand Central Publishing, 2014.
For fifteen years, four "girls of August" would gather together to spend a week at the beach, until tragedy interrupts their ritual. Now they reunite for a startling week of discoveries. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt.