Summer 1946. A man in his thirties is sailing on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy, hoping to put off the inevitable return to work. Dropping anchor in a small port, he meets the owner of a nearby villa who invites him home for in his waterside mansion. The sailor in a guest room previously occupied by a now deceased bishop related to his host. The two men form an uneasy bond, recognizing in each other a shared taste for idling and erotic adventure. They soon set sail together, but sudden tragedy puts an end to their revels and shatters the tranquillity of the villa...
"Chiara (1913-86) was a popular Italian writer in the mid-twentieth century, but his work remains largely unavailable in the U.S. Happily, this hypnotic novel, a mix of thriller and mood piece on the nature of sexual attraction, has finally been translated into English. The unnamed narrator is idling away the summer of 1946, fighting vainly the postwar ennui by sailing on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. Then he encounters the aristocratic Orimbelli, who invites the sailor to his villa for dinner. A friendship blossoms, as the narrator makes a foursome with Orimbelli, his older wife, and his widowed sister-in-law. The sexual tension crackles, as the narrator now a houseguest attempts to sort out his own attraction for the sister-in-law, as well as the dynamics of the three-cornered relationship between Orimbelli and the two women. Sailing interludes move the action to the calm but somehow ominous water, as the two men form dalliances with other women, which only delays the resolution of the tension awaiting at the villa. It's a quiet novel, but the suspense is as palpable as the unmistakable echoes of Patricia Highsmith.--Bill Ott Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Chiara's engrossing novel of loafing lotharios in post-WWII Italy hums with suspense. An wealthy 30-something unnamed narrator gads about Lake Maggiore in the summer of 1946 on his unusual sailboat. He meets Temistocle Mario Orimbelli, recently returned to Italy following his time in the army in Africa, who insistently invites him to dine. Orimbelli takes him to his eerie villa and introduces his chilly wife, Cleofe, and sultry Matilde, the widow of Cleofe's presumed dead brother. The two men take to drifting along the lake and picking up women to seduce. Orimbelli annoys the narrator by always seducing the one the narrator prefers and acting as if he cannot help it. When Matilde agrees to accompany them on a short journey, the narrator sees his turn to consummate his attraction, but Orimbelli claims he shares a strong, secret love with Matilde. As the narrator begins to cool on his friend, a shocking death sets in motion a tense cascade of suspicion and new arrangements. Chiara's atmospheric writing and aching descriptions of desire amplify the effects of the characters' dubious choices. Readers will be swept away by this lush, gothic-tinged mystery and its unscrupulous characters. (Nov.)"
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ordreq 10/08/19 xa
Translated from the Italian by Jill Foulston.
159 pages ; 21cm