The Italian Girl

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The Italian Girl

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nov 27, 2015, 2:36 pm

Here's my review, do add yours!
The Italian Girl

I've gotten into the habit of separating Murdoch novels into the darker ones and the more comical ones, but a few don't really fit, and this is one of them. One could also separate her novels into the staccato or the leisurely development - on the whole I have preferred the more leisurely, finding that the shifts characters make are more convincing. I haven't made a catalogue of which types have a first person narration, although The Sea, The Sea would fall into that category, and, in a way, now that I think about it, this tale has somewhat in common with it, although in the staccato, abbreviated form. Edmund goes home for his mother's funeral and finds a house in turmoil. His brother and sister-in-law are barely speaking, the daughter is in trouble, his brother's "assistant" has a sister who is quite mad, and somehow involved with his brother . .. and it just gets more and more convoluted from there. The one sane person (Edmund, it has to be said, is neither sane nor insane, he's been living a very monkish life avoiding all involvements) is "the Italian girl"--that is--the deceased mother has always hired a young Italian woman to work in the house. The latest is called "Maggie", and no one in the family "sees" her ("Seeing," is a theme of the novel.) She is undistinguishable from the "other" Italian girls, Carlotta, Vittoria, etc., part of the landscape, taken for granted. The story is Edmund's and it is about coming to life, noticing and seeing and being willing to jump into the world of the truly living (as always, water plays a part--this time as a rain, often falling when the sun is out, making the light golden and hazy, and a waterfall). Being "blind" is not without consequences, and the shock of events may turn many of the players to lead better lives, but not without a price. I constantly give these Murdoch novels four stars, but this one, for me is too staccato. Everything is there, someone else might love it. But some of the shifts were too quick for me. ***1/2