Friday, October 5, 2012
The Almond Picker by Simonetta Agnello Hornby, translated by Alistair McEwen
Simonetta Agnello Hornby's The Almond Picker spans one month in time and encompasses a multitude of characters, each contributing a piece to the larger picture. I sometimes found it hard to keep track of how the different townspeople were related to each other and what their connections were with Mennulara. It didn't matter if the voices occasionally blended into a noisy crowd because the remarkable woman at the centre emerges clearly by the end of the novel. She was despised, loved, scorned and admired, depending on the individual.
Some folks get in trouble for prying to closely into Mennulara's background: "Today, he found that someone had destroyed the engine of his car, a Fiat Seicento, by pouring cement into it. Neither he nor that spineless boss of his knows which saint to turn to." Meanwhile, the Alfallipe siblings are exposed for their grasping, lazy, presumptuous and ungrateful selves -- putting on quite a spectacle for the town.
It's a big-hearted Italian Peyton Place and I highly recommend it.