THE TEMP­TA­TION TO BE HAPPY

Cape Times - - BOOKS -

Lorenzo Marone

Loot.co.za (R340)

Oneworld

COM­ING-of-age nov­els have long been with us. A more re­cent phe­nom­e­non is com­ing-of-oldage sto­ries in which pro­tag­o­nists gain late-on­set self-knowl­edge with amus­ing and mov­ing re­sults.

This one, from Italy, is bet­ter writ­ten than most, crammed with witty aper­cus and in­sight­ful epi­grams about age­ing in par­tic­u­lar and peo­ple in gen­eral. Ce­sare is a kind of Neapoli­tan Vic­tor Mel­drew, liv­ing alone in his flat and try­ing to avoid hu­man­ity. But even he can­not ig­nore the prob­lems of the young woman across the land­ing. As he is drawn in, other re­la­tion­ships are re-es­tab­lished, in­clud­ing those with his chil­dren and neigh­bours. Sad, funny, wise and un­blink­ingly hon­est, this is truly won­der­ful.

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