Lives of the Saints

Lives of the Saints

Book - 2002
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What really happened to Vittorio's mother that day in the stable? That she'd been bitten by a snake was clear enough: the swelling in the ankle proved it. But that other swelling, the one that led eventually to his mother's long, loose dresses, to those dark, cold stares from the other villagers. What strange thing could be taking shape there in his mother's belly, and what doom would it carry them all to? Set in Valle del Sole, a tiny mountain hamlet nestled in the folds of the Italian Appenines like a world forgotten, Lives of the Saints tells the story of young Vittorio Innocente and of his mother, Cristina, whose affair with a mysterious blue-eyed stranger abruptly shatters the innocence of Vittorio's childhood. As he tries to piece together the truth of his mother's crime, we discover through Vittorio's eyes the dark underside of Valle de Sole's pastoral calm: the hypocrisy and malice that breed within the cloak of the villagers' self-righteousness, and the age-old superstitions and fears that lurk beneath their veneer of Chrisitanity and Catholicism like vestiges of a pagan past. But sinner or saint, Cristina is irrepressible and, finally, it is her defiance that the villagers cannot bear, her refusal to be defeated by them even as her world crumbled.
Publisher: Dunvegan, Ont. : Cormorant Books, [2002], c1990
ISBN: 9781896951430
1896951430
Branch Call Number: FIC Ricci
Characteristics: v, 248 p

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anndeanshaw
Nov 22, 2014

Lives of the Saints follows the story of 7 year old Vittorio Innocente and his mother Cristina. When Vittorio stumbles upon his mother having affair with a man he cannot describe other than having “blue-eyes,” the village begins to ostracize Cristina, forcing herself and Vittorio to make drastic changes in their way of life. Superstitions and village beliefs begin to corner Cristina to a point where she decides that it is time she and Vitto broke free from the village’s cruel ways.

The title of the novel comes from the name of the book Vitto’s teacher gave to him over the holidays to read on his own also called “The Lives of the Saints.” This book keeps Vitto company while he, along with his mother, are disliked and shunned by the village. Vitto is able to learn quite a lot from the religious text, and uses what he learns to understand what is happening in his life. Readers are able to see just how much Vitto grows as a person from the start of the novel, to the point where he reads the book his teacher gave to him.

Lives of the Saints takes a different route of storytelling by making the reader see the world from a 7 year olds’ eyes. The reader is given a skewed view of what is happening, due to the fact that Vitto himself does not quite understand what is happening around him. As he pieces information together, so does the reader, giving the reader an interesting reading experience. Although this novel has a fairly slow pace and takes a while to get into, the reader is still left being able to take something out of it. Through the use of symbolism and imagery, readers are given a unique experience and will most definitely be moved by this story.

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