The House In Via Manno: Milena Agus

It’s not surprising that this short novel became a bestseller in Italy, France and Germany. The novel’s young narrator tells the story of her beautiful but eccentric Sardinian grandmother and her search for love. The younger suitors, despite the great attraction of her beauty, were frightened off by her intensity and eccentricity – ‘Macca,’ her mother shouted, ‘She’s mad.’

During the war, a widower arrived in the village, His wife, child and whole family had been destroyed in a bomb blast. He asked for Nonna’s hand and they were soon married (‘but I don’t love you,’ Nonna said). Her husband replied that that was okay, as he didn’t love her and he could go to the bordello as he had always done. Plagued by a strange illness, she travels to a sanatorium on the mainland where she becomes obsessed by a young veteran who has lost his leg in the war; they become friends – for the first time in her life she feels that she is able to be truly intimate with another person. Returning to Sardinia, she never forgets her veteran and dreams of seeing him again.

The House in Via Manno is an utterly charming and beguiling story about the nature of love and passion; it’s a novel of rare and simple beauty.