Timoteo: career as a brain surgeon, beautiful, clever wife, luxurious Roman apartment, villa by the sea. He seems the epitome of success and glamour. But then his daughter falls off her scooter. A colleague operates on her head injuries and, while the agonised Timoteo awaits the outcome, he holds the reader in the vice-like grip of his confession. ...
Timoteo: career as a brain surgeon, beautiful, clever wife, luxurious Roman apartment, villa by the sea. He seems the epitome of success and glamour. But then his daughter falls off her scooter. A colleague operates on her head injuries and, while the agonised Timoteo awaits the outcome, he holds the reader in the vice-like grip of his confession. For, beneath the veneer of his apparently charmed life, there is a story of squalor, degradation, deceit and strange passion. The story of a doomed affair with a woman from a working-class suburb of Rome who, from the moment he gives into instinct and rapes her, to the end of their relationship when she lies under his knife, undermines everything he ever thought he knew about himself. Mazzantini's mesmerising portrait of a supremely controlled man losing control is set to be the most gripping book of 2004. Highly atmospheric, subtly disturbing, it keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. In the end, the suspense of wondering whether Timoteo's daughter will live is overtaken by the question of deciding just how much pity her guilty father deserves.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-04-12 With this story of a tragic romance, as told by a father to his comatose teenage daughter, Italian actress and novelist Mazzantini plays with the choices people make as they construct narratives, especially what they remember and tell in times of crisis. The decision to frame the narrative as a father's confession makes for an odd conceit, considering the lurid details the protagonist shares about his sex life with both his wife and lover. Timoteo is a successful surgeon with a distant relationship with his beautiful wife and a sexually obsessive relationship with his mistress, Italia. He is selfish and capricious (he meets with Italia just hours after his daughter Angela's birth), but he also exhibits flashes of lucidity that make him an engaging if maddening narrator. "You've learned more about me from my absences, my books, my raincoat in the hall, than you have from my flesh-and-blood self," he tells his unconscious daughter, Angela. Mazzantini keeps the plot moving, shifting quickly between Timoteo's memories and his agonizing wait during Angela's surgery. Too often, though, her prose is overwrought and clumsy: Timoteo relates that his lover's tears "burned [him] like lava," and describes himself waiting in the hospital after Angela's birth like "a moth that's been trapped in a room too long... its wings as heavy as cork." Timoteo's honesty offsets the turgid writing in this enjoyable if somewhat awkward novel, as he traces the trajectory of the sordid relationship that still haunts him, from the "viscid pleasure" in its illicit sex to its predictable aftermath. Agent, Moira Mazzantini. (May 25) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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