Beatrice Masini
I nomi che diamo alle cose (The Names We Give to Things)
A novel, Bompiani 2016, 224 pages

“The narration has an intense stride and reflective pace, where atmospheres, landscapes and feelings are described sharply and accurately – the precision of a gaze rather than of a photograph.”
Corriere della Sera

“Beatrice Masini reveals her talent in exploring what she hides in the apparently clear-cut events of a great sprawling families.”
La Stampa

When you wish for something distractedly you often wind up getting it without knowing what to do with it. That’s what Anna, the main character of this novel, discovers. She’s a forty-year-old editor and ghostwriter when a famous author of books for young adults she’d met some years before, Iride Bandini, dies and leaves her an inheritance: a small house in the country with a view of Lake Garda, which served as the staff house of the author’s villa.
At first Anna considers it a gesture of gratitude, though somewhat excessive; but soon she lets herself be charmed by the area and decides to change her life. There are many reasons for her to leave Milano, the city where she lives: first of all a confused and relationship with a married man and the desire to break it off. Besides, Anna has the good fortune of doing a job that she can take with her.
When she first gets to the countryside Anna is busy with things to do and making acquaintances. There are more or less wanted new encounters and new friends – maybe too many for a solitary and reserved woman. Tiziano, the master builder who is kind and devoted and takes care of the work to be done around the house, who seems to always be present; Umile, the writer’s former secretary and chaperone, with her family secrets; a rug merchant from Iran; an unconventional peasant couple and their two children; a young enthusiastic wine-grower; Gregorio, Iride Bandini’s son, who is constantly angry with the rest of the world, but most of all with himself. Everyone seems to want something from Anna, as if her presence in that place wasn’t just by chance, as if she’d been sought. There’s a collection of unpublished tales by Iride Bandini found in a tin box; there are stories of war and love that only certain homes can tell, dealing with knots that still hurt as they tighten.
This novel speaks of caring for other people, of good mothers and bad children or vice versa, of wine, dogs and ghosts, of the importance you need to give to your actions and the words you use to define them. The themes treated hark back to authors cited in the beginning of each chapter – Penelope Mortimer, Margaret Drabble, Jeanette Winterson, Sylvia Townsend Warner – as an implicit homage to speaking about love, work, motherhood, and the difficult, sometimes impossible balance that they demand.

Beatrice Masini

Beatrice Masini - © Isabelle Boccon-Gibod

Beatrice Masini was born and lives in Milan. She is a successful writer of books for children and teens, translated into over 20 languages, from Finnish to Thai. Working as an editor in an Italian publishing group, she also translated books such as the Harry Potter saga by J. K. Rowling. Among her works, La spada e il cuore. Donne della Bibbia (2003, Premio Elsa Morante Ragazzi 2004) and Signore e signorine. Corale greca (2002, Premio Pippi 2004). In 2004 she received the prestigious Andersen Prize as best children’s author of the year. Her first novel for the adult readership is Tentativi di botanica degli affetti (2013, Premio Selezione Campiello), followed by I nomi che diamo alle cose (2016) and the short story collection Più grande la paura (2019).

 

 

 

“The narration has an intense stride and reflective pace, where atmospheres, landscapes and feelings are described sharply and accurately – the precision of a gaze rather than of a photograph.”
Corriere della Sera

“Things, meaning all of existence, need something to identify them and bring them to us.”
Avvenire

“An elegant and delicate book, in which the narration and descriptions (landscapes, interiors, facial features) are based on amazement and enchantment – because only memory can resist the river of time.”
Sette

“Beatrice Masini reveals her talent in exploring what she hides in the apparently clear-cut events of a great sprawling families.”
La Stampa

Foreign publishers of Beatrice Masini’s works
Canada: Éditions Fides
France: Éditions des Deux Terres, Le Livre de Poche
Spain: Salamandra
US and UK: Macmillan

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