Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tre Generazioni by Federico G. Martini

Like its title, Tre Generazioni is a three generational family saga that takes place after the unification of Italy. In that turbulent period, the noble classes, which for centuries had lorded over life at the expense of the Italian people, are crumbling. They are unable to adjust to the new societal changes. The lives of ease and idleness they once enjoyed are disappearing. The Ravazzani family of Milan are symbolic of this great upheaval.

The head of the family is ruled by Count Galeazzo, a domineering authoritarian with obsessive ambition. He is desperate to maintain his power and prestige. Charlotte, the French wife of Galeazzo, is a gentle spirit who does not believe in her husband’s philosophy to act and live solely to increase the family’s social standing and riches. She finds the traditions and prejudices not to her liking and struggles against the narrow-minded environment and painful events in her life. Their first son, Lodrisio, is cynical and reckless and despises anyone who is not of his own rank. He is of the ilk that noble marriages are solely for increasing wealth and social status. Their second son, Ascanio, is rebellious and independent, choosing his own way in life, and marrying a woman of a lower class. But it is the third generation who will prove to be different, released from the previous social restraints. Throughout the struggles of this once great family, runs the details of Italy’s fascinating history as the country struggles to find its own identity.

From start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed this epic family saga. The story held dark family secrets, fascinating and flawed characters, and plenty of twists and turns to keep me turning the pages. The author’s prose in Italian was easy to read and flowed at a good pace. I found the insight into Milanese life in the 1800’s well researched and highly informative. He skilfully sprinkled Italy’s rich history into the poignant story of each family member’s life struggle, providing the reader with compelling insight during a most turbulent era in Italian history and its impact on the nobility.

For anyone interested in Italian history, this book is one that is well written, but also highly educational and very entertaining. Highly recommended.