It happened to girls in Italy
Viola Ardone, Oliva Denaro, Einaudi, 2021
I prepared myself in advance to read this book. I knew about the plot, which is about a girl who suffers violence and refuses to marry her kidnapper in 1960s Sicily; but as we all know, knowing just this does not solve the question of how the plot will unfold.
And thank goodness! There is a slow but inexorable pressure surrounding the protagonist, whose name is Oliva, which from the outset does not bode well. This dense web of family conventions about women, of ways of living, of thinking takes on dark tones that surely envelop the reader, but not the protagonist, who retain a clear and vivid view of people and events. Oliva wants to be like the others, but events and a courage unknown in some ways even to herself, sustained by her father's few, dense words, stir up daring circles around her, until she reaches the legislative heart of the country that will change the fate of many other women, victims of rape only to be forced into reparative marriages.
And to think that all this happened, in Italy, to girls like my nieces, not centuries ago, but only the day before yesterday of our history.