THE TEMPTATION TO BE HAPPY
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.