Original title: Loro
“Powerful prose, with a clear, musical, and literary voice. Music has an important role in Cotroneo’s writing: it enhances and at the same time narrows the gap between being and appearing, between true and presumed.” – Il Foglio
“Loro” would have pleased Umberto Eco. It would have amused and amazed him with its great play of associations, suggestions and references, starting from the spectacular setting, a glass house representing the opposite of Eco’s theatrical library in “The Name of the Rose”.” – Il Riformista
Atmospheric and tense, chilling and elegant at once, Loro is a tribute to great literature and, at the same time, an engrossing story framed into an ambiguous scenario that ventures into the unknown
Margherita is a young woman who becomes the governess for an aristocratic family, the Ordellafis, and moves to their magnificent villa on the outskirts of Rome, designed by a famous architect. Roberto Cotroneo brings us into a modern house, made entirely of glass, a true work of art like the famous Koolhaas’s House, where everything can be seen (and yet there are lots of secrets), nestled in a park with a Renaissance temple and a sculpture of Hecate, goddess of the underworld – an atmosphere in which archaic and contemporary interweave together.
Margherita will look after the 10-year-old twin sisters Lavinia and Lucrezia. In the glass house everything seems perfect under the summer’s light and the twins are a wonder of education and talent: Lucrezia loves playing the piano, while Lavinia loves riding. However, after just a few days from Margherita’s arrival, strange things begin to happen, and visions and omens begin to crowd the governess’s mind. “They are them” the twins said, “the former guests returned to unearth ancient secrets”.
The summer’s light gives way to the darkness and Margherita falls into a whirlpool of delusion: the twins seem ancient presences dominating the house, their mother is numb and static, their father absent and mute, and the gardener an old lame man seemingly coming from a distant time. The glass house appears always dark, with lights and shadows constantly blending together.
Lost in a claustrophobic search for truth, Margherita will discover the house’s cursed and grim history whilst realizing that the only escape is to save herself.
Drawing from a wide range of influences in literature, from Henry James to E. T. A. Hoffmann, from Ann Radcliffe to Horace Walpole, whilst paying homage to R.L. Stevenson and Umberto Eco, Roberto Cotroneo delivers a highly ambitious novel, wrapped in rich, lyrical prose, both refined and accessible, erudite and entertaining, that leads the reader towards sinister territories, into that no man’s land that is our mind.
With its unpredictable ending and its play of light and shadow, Loro offers a rewardingly tense, layered, and immersive read which ventures into the deepest dark corners of the human mind and haunts the readers with their own obsessions.