A Cloud on Sand

Gabriella De Ferrari, Author
Gabriella De Ferrari, Author Knopf Publishing Group $19.95 (323p) ISBN 978-0-394-55145-6
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Set in pre-WW II Italy and wartime South America, this work of psychological realism tells of the bizarre enchantments touching--and sometimes ruling--human lives. Antonia's mother--the amoral, supremely stylish Dora--lives in an imposing villa built at her request in a seedy section of Artemisia, a small town near Genoa, by a husband who spends most of his time in Argentina. In Artemisia, where Dora grew up poor, she lords it over relatives, neglects Antonia and son Marco, amasses lovers and rare coins, loses servants. One of Dora's conquests, Count Emilio Mora, comes to serve as a surrogate father to the children, installing them in Catholic boarding schools. Both end up in South America--Marco, until he is duped and murdered, running his dead father's Argentinian business, and Antonia as the bride of an Italian living in Yayaku, a Basque-like country north of Chile. Compelled by a tragic sense of fate, De Ferrari's characters are visited by alarming dreams--and in their sleeping and waking hours observe many strange things, from witches to men who melt. The first novelist's impressive control of these uncanny powers in a basically realistic context will suggest comparisons with Marquez, although De Ferrari is in no sense an imitator. 40,000 first printing. (Apr.)
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