“We’re now going to Italy. Although, technically, we’re going to Sardinia”
“I can’t hold up a copy of After the Divorce by Grazia Deledda as this translation is only available as an e-book.” Scott explains. “But it is only £1.99 on the Kindle store, so it is worth going and buying. Has anyone read Grazia Deledda? How about Elena Ferrante? Well, if you like Ferrante, you’ll like this.”
“Might you like it even if you don’t like Ferrante?” someone in the audience asks.
“Um, well yes!” says Scott, ever the good salesman, “I think you will. I think it’s a great story.”
Grazia Deledda was the first Italian woman to win the nobel prize for literature. All of her books are set in Sardinia, and she’s often considered the laureate of Sardinia. Her biggest fan, when she was alive, was D H Lawrence, who frequently raved about her.
The story is about a young married woman who has a small child, and her husband has been convicted of murder. He claims he didn’t do it, although we don’t know the truth. The woman returns to her family home while he is in prison.
At the time, there was a law that stated if your husband was in prison for a serious crime then you could legally divorce him. So she was encouraged to divorce him and marry the local, wealthy landowner who had always been in love with her. Thinking she is doing the best for her child, she agrees.
It gets more interesting – and more funny, Scott emphasises – when new evidence is uncovered that leads to her now-ex-husband being released from prison. When he returns to find her married, and to his childhood rival of all people, he is distraught. And of course, she is still in love with her ex-husband.
I won’t tell you want happens, and I’m not going to pretend that it has a lovely, light-hearted, happy ending. But it is an incredible book that captures Sardinia brilliantly.