Original title: Un’amicizia
Silvia Avallone’s stunning comeback as the queen of literary fiction in Italy
Elisa and Beatrice were friends, so long ago that it feels like another lifetime. They met when they were 14, in T. a small town on the Tuscany coast. Elisa ended up in T. by way of her mother’s incomprehensible choices, whereas Beatrice was T. born and raised. When they meet, two very different worlds collide: Elisa has a mismatched, troubled family that struggles to show affection; Beatrice has an attentive mother, a successful father, a perfect house.
Elisa is angry, rebellious and awkward; Beatrice is determined, rational and self secure. They have just one thing in common: loneliness. As an outsider, Elisa is never accepted; but Beatrice seems to have chosen her solitude, because she doesn’t think her peers in this little town are good enough for her. One day they decide to steal a pair of designer jeans from a shop: this initiation forms the basis of a strong, visceral, sisterly bond, the kind of friendship only 14 year old girls can have. They share all their firsts: first parties, first loves, losing their virginity, first pain, first grief.
Elisa and Beatrice are young, imperfect, rebellious and inseparable. But at one point something snaps.Thirteen years later, Beatrice is one of the most famous faces on the planet, she has millions of followers, incredible clothes, she’s living the dream. Meanwhile, Elisa was left to pick up the pieces, remembering, and searching for meaning. It’s her voice that accompanies us through the novel, in her new role as a mother.
Silvia Avallone creates unforgettable characters (Paolo, Elisa’s shy and self-conscious father; her brother, still an unresolved rebel at thirty; her mother, who has never been a mum in the traditional sense, but an example of a woman who knows how to be free – even if Elisa only comes to realize and accept this when she becomes a mother herself) and a supporting cast who make up a whole small town community.
This is a powerfully emotional, universal story that flirts gently with nostalgia and considers the deepest meaning of the word friendship. Friendship can be as powerful and dangerous as love, and this book explores women’s struggle to reconcile within themselves the spirit of Elisa, with her sensitivity, fears and fragility, and the spirit of Beatrice, with her desire to be beautiful and feminine, her fierce determination to succeed, and the great love every woman needs in order to love others: love for herself.
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