The Distractions

Original title: Le distrazioni

Author: De Paolis, Federica

Publication Date:

May 2022



Original language and publisher

Italian | HarperCollins Italy

Territories Handled

English (North America), Netherlands

Territories Sold

Film/TV rights (offers received)


Literary Fiction

The Distractions

Original title: Le distrazioni

Author: De Paolis, Federica


Through intense flashbacks, De Paolis walks with us inside the couple, where Viola and Paolo’s feelings and expectations emerge little by little. Progressively the book reveals itself for what it is: a powerful, deep, intense love story lashed by a disgrace, that not only disrupts the couple’s feelings, but it shakes their minds as well. A crescendo of anguish that lasts till the last page.

Motherhood is one of the key themes: maternity told by women who are also mothers and have gone through, each in their own hectic life, the ancient conflict of being forced to choose between themselves or their families.

Federica De Paolis’ characters speak with material, objective and physical words, thoughtful and unsettling at once. The same can be said about love, even more real because invisible, almost to the end, but told with visible and material words, which brings to the Italian literary scene a great male figure described by a woman.

Page by page, Federica De Paolis creates the perfect plot and makes the readers question themselves about their lives, their distractions, about the beginning and the end of love. — Maria Grazie Calandrone, Corriere della sera

“Do you realize what we have done?”

Viola is struggling with new motherhood. Exhausted and in conflict with her partner Paolo, she spends her days with 18-month-old Elia, the child she wanted and sought so much to the point of putting herself through the ordeal of the assisted conception. When Elia was finally born, after so many difficulties, arguments and misunderstandings, Viola feels that something is missing. That she is not the mother she was supposed to be. That love is not enough to avoid Paolo and her from drifting apart. Moreover, just two years before, Viola had an accident that caused her a brain damage. Since that day her memory has started to blur and everything has been tiring for her, almost unbearable. One day Viola leaves Elia in the neighbourhood park, convinced that Paolo is on his way to pick him up in just a few minutes. But Paolo has to go back to work, urgently, and Elia is left alone, abandoned to his fate in a part of Rome as desolate as a moor. Thus, an anguish search begins, a search that, at the same time, delves into Viola and Paolo’s thoughts and memories, lost in their distractions and unspoken words, desperately seeking a key to understand each other’s and themselves.

Federica De Paolis returns with a powerful and evocative novel written with a precise, clear, and almost surgical style. The Distractions is a story about a dysfunctional couple and the world they live into, and the story they tell themselves. A realistic, unflinching, and brilliant look at relationships and coupledom as well as a crucial exploration of the struggles of parenthood, that illuminates the silences that hide in everyone’s life and ultimately gives them voice.

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