The Water Door
By Rosetta Loy
(Other Press, Paperback, 9781590510629, 120pp.)
Publication Date: February 17, 2006
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A contemporary Italian classic reminiscent of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
A Garcia Lorca poem gives this book its title, “not even the smallest hand can open the water door,” and this epigraph begins a story of unrequited love. A five-year-old girl, the daughter of a bourgeois Roman family in the late 1930s, finds the object of her desire in her German-speaking governess: blond, blue-eyed, milky-white Anne Marie.
The story of their relationship spans a single season, as the family moves through its obligatory social rituals. Their customs and manners are all absorbed through the wide-eyed gaze of their little girl making her first contact with the outside world. She encounters kindergarten, the nuns and their baroque Catholicism, and most importantly, a fascinating Jewish girl who lives across the street. Their friendship will change her relationship with her governess forever, especially once the Jewish girl disappears.
Loy’s rhythmic, sensual prose animates a kaleidoscopic narrative, combining the intimacy of childhood emotions with nightmare glimpses of Fascist Italy during World War II.
“The Water Door has the intensity of a confession in the form of an elegy, between autobiography and invented voices.”
Rosetta Loy has written six novels, two novellas, and a collection of short stories, and the memoir First Words. Her works in English include Hot Chocolate at Hanselmann's (2003) and The Dust Roads of Monferrato (1990).
Gregory Conti is an Advisory Editor of Raritan In addition to Rosetta Loy's work, he has translated works by Mario Rigoni Stern and Enrico Deaglio.