Summer Reads: The Day Before Happiness/This Too Shall Pass

We’re mostly lazing at this end. And I’m still not only appreciating every damn second as well as fast feeling the effects of a slower-paced life. Roaming in and out of rooms with books, cups of tea and (too often) chocolate biscuits in hand, I wondering what it was about the frenetic multi-tasking that I thought made me so happy.

Of course, I’m hardly bored at all.

This week’s reads are both relatively fresh off the press. (Well, more accurately, The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca has been on shelves for a while but has been recently re-translated into English by Jill Foulston.)

Both books were a spur-of-the-moment impulse (I honestly can’t control) purchase at Daunt while helping the Smalls to pick out more summer reads. Usually I like to fully research a book and readers’ thoughts before finally committing to my wish list. But that was when I had less time.

Either way, they appealed and so I read.

De Luca is one of Italy’s bestselling authors (he’s written around 60 books) but I had always considered him to be too heavy on the metaphors for my liking.   However, a sucker for any tale of WW2, I particularly fancied The Day Before Happiness, set in Naples, centred around a young orphan boy and his relationship with Don Gaetano, his adult guardian and concierge of the apartment building.

The writing is absolutely beautiful and the stories (within the story) are vivid but… I wouldn’t say I couldn’t put it down. Perhaps De Luca is an acquired taste?

This Too Shall Pass (by Milena Busquets) is a curious mix: sex and death, past and present, philosophy and farce all collide in this short novel set in Cadaqués, a beach town in Spain. Blanca, our narrator, has just buried her mother and is only too aware of a feeling of emptiness as well as a loss of youth. Her age (40), her various men (ex-husbands and current lovers) and her memories of her mother (pre and during Parkinson’s) provide us with an intimate tale of pleasure and loss.

Definitely one for the summer if you fancy a little more to think about.

[Next up is The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson]


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