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February 15, 2011 / Leslie

Review: From the Land of the Moon

From The Land Of The MoonFrom the Land of the Moon
by Milena Agus
Translated by Ann Goldstein

Genre: Literature
Publisher: Europa Editions
Publish Date: January 2011
Format: Paperback | 114 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

In this debut novel by Milena Agus, a young unnamed Italian women pieces together the story of her grandmother’s life, a tale that spans three generations and two families. Translated from Italian, this beautiful book retains it’s lyrical prose. The passion of her grandmother’s bittersweet life and the picturesque descriptions of Italy flowed from the pages.

The story begins begins in Sardinia, Italy near the end World War II. Grandmother had just married at age 30 and was considered a bit of an old maid. Her father had forced her to marry the first man who asked, an older widower who she diden’t love. Her family was convinced she scared away all the other suitors by writing them love poems and her own mother thought she was a little bit crazy, perhaps from the land of the moon.

After 10 years of marriage and several miscarriages grandmother still had no children. Kidney stones were blamed and she was sent to the thermal baths on the mainland for a cure. It was there that she met the Veteran and immediately fell in love with him. Nine months later she gave birth to a son and the spa treatment was considered a success. She never tells anyone about the Veteran but longs for her lost love all her life.

There was always more to grandmother’s life than our narrator knew. After her death the granddaughter finds a book and a letter that had been hidden away. While some questions are now answered, others are raised that made me wonder about what was real and what was imagined. I’m being vague because I don’t want to spoil this for anyone who decides to read the book. I will say that the ending was very haunting and powerful and that families will go to many lengths to protect their secrets.

At a little over 100 pages this is a novella rather than a novel and when I finished it I wanted more. After I had time to fully digest the story and think about it for a few days, I decided that it was the right length even though some of the questions are not fully answered. And that is my point; I was still thinking about it a few days later and wondering. Highly recommended.
First three chapters are available on google books.
Source: Borrowed copy.
CymLowellI participate in Book Review Party Wednesday. Click the link to read more great reviews.


Leave a Comment
  1. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Feb 15 2011 9:03 pm

    I love those Europa Editions — sounds good!


    • Leslie / Feb 19 2011 12:49 am

      I just recently found out about Europa Editions. I was going through their catalog and they have some interesting books.


  2. Ash / Feb 15 2011 10:00 pm

    One of my unofficial goals for this year is to read more books in translation so I might try this.


    • Leslie / Feb 19 2011 12:50 am

      I was thinking the same thing. After I read Three Seconds, which is translated from Swedish, I thought I’d try a few more this year.


  3. Suko / Feb 16 2011 11:10 am

    This does sound really good. My grandfather hailed from Sardinia. Enticing review, Leslie!


    • Leslie / Feb 19 2011 12:52 am

      My family is from Tuscany and it’s beautiful there. I visited some of the southern cities too but not the islands.


  4. Elizabeth / Feb 16 2011 8:51 pm

    Stopping by from Cym Lowell’s Book Party.

    Stop by my blog to see the “teaser” post for a blog hop giveaway.

    Details will be posted on Saturday.


  5. TheBookGirl / Feb 17 2011 9:18 am

    This sounds very interesting to me…the fact that you are still thinking about the book days after you finished it is quite a compliment 🙂


    • Leslie / Feb 19 2011 12:53 am

      It was that kind of book. Short but powerful.


  6. bermudaonion / Feb 17 2011 10:15 am

    I love that this is a generational story. Some books don’t survive translation well – I’m glad to see this one does.


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