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When young Vittorio Innocente’s mother, Cristina, is bitten by a snake in the family stable, no one sees the blue-eyed stranger leaving except for Vittorio. He struggles to keep his mother’s secret but secrets in a small village are hard to keep, and while Cristina’s belly gradually grows under her loose dresses, they find themselves shunned by their superstitious neighbou When young Vittorio Innocente’s mother, Cristina, is bitten by a snake in the family stable, no one sees the blue-eyed stranger leaving except for Vittorio. He struggles to keep his mother’s secret but secrets in a small village are hard to keep, and while Cristina’s belly gradually grows under her loose dresses, they find themselves shunned by their superstitious neighbours. A classic of Canadian literature, Lives of the Saints has earned many distinctions since it was originally published in 1990. It was a national bestseller for seventy-five weeks, received the Governor Generals Literary Award for Fiction, the W.H. Smith / Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the F.G. Bressani Prize. In England it won the Betty Trask Award and Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, in the U.S. was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and in France was an Oeil de la letter Selection of the National Libraries Association. It was also adapted into a miniseries starring Sophia Loren.


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When young Vittorio Innocente’s mother, Cristina, is bitten by a snake in the family stable, no one sees the blue-eyed stranger leaving except for Vittorio. He struggles to keep his mother’s secret but secrets in a small village are hard to keep, and while Cristina’s belly gradually grows under her loose dresses, they find themselves shunned by their superstitious neighbou When young Vittorio Innocente’s mother, Cristina, is bitten by a snake in the family stable, no one sees the blue-eyed stranger leaving except for Vittorio. He struggles to keep his mother’s secret but secrets in a small village are hard to keep, and while Cristina’s belly gradually grows under her loose dresses, they find themselves shunned by their superstitious neighbours. A classic of Canadian literature, Lives of the Saints has earned many distinctions since it was originally published in 1990. It was a national bestseller for seventy-five weeks, received the Governor Generals Literary Award for Fiction, the W.H. Smith / Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the F.G. Bressani Prize. In England it won the Betty Trask Award and Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, in the U.S. was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and in France was an Oeil de la letter Selection of the National Libraries Association. It was also adapted into a miniseries starring Sophia Loren.

30 review for Lives of the Saints

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Smithbooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the Bressani Prize. 4 ½ stars In my opinion, Lives of the Saints is a much more enjoyable, tightly woven story than Ricci’s most recent Origin of the Species. This debut novel is told through the eyes of 7-year-old Vittorio Innocente. Vittorio lives with his mother, Cristina, and his grandfather, the town mayor. The story opens with Vittorio hearing a man’s cry from the stable. Young Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Smithbooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the Bressani Prize. 4 ½ stars In my opinion, Lives of the Saints is a much more enjoyable, tightly woven story than Ricci’s most recent Origin of the Species. This debut novel is told through the eyes of 7-year-old Vittorio Innocente. Vittorio lives with his mother, Cristina, and his grandfather, the town mayor. The story opens with Vittorio hearing a man’s cry from the stable. Young Vitto also sees a snake, which has special meaning for the villagers of Valle del Sole, Italy. Inside the stable, our protagonist next sees the blue eyes of a stranger in the darkness, but when Vittorio is questioned by his mother about what he saw, he claims not to have seen a thing, focusing instead, on her snake bite. And so begins the tale of Vittorio Innocente’s loss of innocence, and the strong, independent Cristina, and how her actions affect not only her own life, but also those of her son and father. That she had been bitten by a snake arouses age-old superstitions and fears amongst the villagers even though Vittorio later claims the snake was green, a good sign. It’s Cristina’s affair, well-known to all, that is hot gossip, and eventually results in her being shunned, not only by the hypocritical inhabitants of Valle del Sole, but also by her father. Her son’s struggle to make sense of it all eventually leads him to understand certain truths about human nature. Ricci has a good story to tell, and his writing is very descriptive: “‘Like dogs, that’s how we live,’ Maria said from the doorway, ‘wash the clothes, haul the water, make the bread, feed the goats, per l’amore di Crist’ let me rest my limbs for a minute.’ And so saying she moved into the stone coolness of the kitchen and set her tub on the floor, then dragged the chair way from the table halfway to the door and straddled it backwards, the way young men did at Di Lucci’s bar. She rested her thick arms on the chair’s back and extended her legs before her, her bulging veins leading like purple highways to the high lands of her hips. Her flesh, its tremors receding, came to uneasy rest, her breasts and belly pressing against the chair back like a cliff wall.” I am a stickler for over-usage of certain phrases, and per l’amore di Crist’ was used too often for my taste. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Ricci had relegated the phrase to one character, but it was uttered by many throughout the book. And if this was a stand alone novel, I would have considered the ending far too abrupt. Those minor criticisms aside, Lives of the Saints is great immigrant literature. I am glad I do not have to wait three years to read the second in the trilogy, and then another four years to read the third. Instead, I can continue reading the story of Vittorio Innocente without interruption. I have already turned the first few pages of In a Glass House.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Ok so this is a book I'm reading for English class so it's not necessarily my first choice, but that's not the reason I'm giving it 2 stars. I'll admit that the idea probably has the potential to go somewhere- a very religious, 60's Italian town and an independant Cristina who is surrounded by controversy; all told from the point of view of her 7 year old son Vittorio who is clearly confused about it all. It's just this book got 2 stars from me for a few reasons: 1. I really don't like how there Ok so this is a book I'm reading for English class so it's not necessarily my first choice, but that's not the reason I'm giving it 2 stars. I'll admit that the idea probably has the potential to go somewhere- a very religious, 60's Italian town and an independant Cristina who is surrounded by controversy; all told from the point of view of her 7 year old son Vittorio who is clearly confused about it all. It's just this book got 2 stars from me for a few reasons: 1. I really don't like how there are many Italian phrases throughout the book. I mean, some are just words that are easy enough to roughly translate from context. But then there are whole sentences and lines of Italian that I can't make sense of. I mean, some of those lines may not be important, but some are and it seems to chop up the book because I don't speak Italian so I don't know what they're saying. 2. Lots of big words. That's not necessarily a bad thing because you don't want to be using really simple words, but when you realize that this book is being told by a 7 year old who can't understand that his Mom is pregnant (I hope that's not a spoiler), when he's using words like "lesions of rust", I don't understand how he knows these words. I didn't when I was 7. 3. The book starts off quite slow. It starts to pick up around chapter 20 but before that, Vittorio is still trying to figure everything out and seems quite oblivious. I guess that's why this is a trilogy, but if I didn't have to read this book for class, I would have stopped way before anything really interesting happenened. 4. There is a lot of description. And I mean a LOT. Description is usually good, don't get me wrong, just sometimes it seems to just drag on and on, almost too much. That makes it just boring becausse sometimes the description is of nothing of particular importance. 5. It can end up being a little...dirty at times. I mean, my Dad skimmed over it for about 5-10 min and was like "This book seems to have a lot of talk about breasts and bodies in it". So I don't know, maybe that's part of his descriptions but it's a little too much at times (not going to give any spoilers though) Of course, this is just MY opinion. I'd look over the book to see if it seems interesting to you. You might love it. I just really wanted to get my thoughts on this book out there. Thanks for reading :)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    I was very disappointed in this book. It was well written, and interesting for a while, but the plot never seemed to go anywhere, it became exceptionally depressing, and looking back on it I'm not entirely sure what it was about. I'm sure there was a deep message somewhere that I must have missed, but it certainly didn't jump out at me and I'm not sure it would be worth the effort to investigate further or re-read to see if I could get it. I was very disappointed in this book. It was well written, and interesting for a while, but the plot never seemed to go anywhere, it became exceptionally depressing, and looking back on it I'm not entirely sure what it was about. I'm sure there was a deep message somewhere that I must have missed, but it certainly didn't jump out at me and I'm not sure it would be worth the effort to investigate further or re-read to see if I could get it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Margaret1358 Joyce

    This is a powerful story, written with strong characterization, the universal theme of human migration -in this case, from the decimated post-WW2 Italian countryside to the new world-and the awe and wonder of a young boy through whose eyes the narration unfolds. A stirring read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shar Wallis

    Interesting perspective on a interesting situation from the point of view of a young boy. A bit slow in places. This is the first book in a trilogy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Despina

    Loving it so far!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily Hays

    While I enjoyed what this book was trying to do, I can tell that not only was it written by a white guy, but it lacked a lot of substance. I read this for class, but at the end of the day I found it deeply misogynistic. Why would a 7 year-old constantly be describing the way his mother's breasts strain against her blouse while she's tending the garden? Or when his mother's friend is over, describe the "marble fat of her inner thigh"? Ricci is a man trying to write in the perspective of a 7 year- While I enjoyed what this book was trying to do, I can tell that not only was it written by a white guy, but it lacked a lot of substance. I read this for class, but at the end of the day I found it deeply misogynistic. Why would a 7 year-old constantly be describing the way his mother's breasts strain against her blouse while she's tending the garden? Or when his mother's friend is over, describe the "marble fat of her inner thigh"? Ricci is a man trying to write in the perspective of a 7 year-old boy, and fails miserably. Meanwhile, the boy's mother is trying to somewhat be a "feminist" by not caring what the village might think of her affair and pregnancy, but I hated the way she treated her son, and she was, bottomline, an unlikable character. Why to go for making the feminists unlikable! (she says sarcastically). Other than that, I guess it accurately portrayed the time, and the little village in Italy, it's population dreaming of the day they'll all have enough money to move to America. So I did not enjoy this. 2/5 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    This story was not happy, but I guess the story of many immigrants is not. I don't really have much to say, this is the story of a boy from a small Italian village and all that entails. Gossip, superstition and envy are rampant. His family leaves Italy for Canada and I won't spoil anything beyond that. My primary issue with this book is the ending. The ending is extraordinarily abrupt. There was so much more that needed to be resolved that was not. This is the primary reason this book loses two s This story was not happy, but I guess the story of many immigrants is not. I don't really have much to say, this is the story of a boy from a small Italian village and all that entails. Gossip, superstition and envy are rampant. His family leaves Italy for Canada and I won't spoil anything beyond that. My primary issue with this book is the ending. The ending is extraordinarily abrupt. There was so much more that needed to be resolved that was not. This is the primary reason this book loses two stars. If you are looking for a tragic story that gives an accurate representation of life in rural Italy and how disorienting it is to immigrate as a child, I would recommend this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Lives of the Saints is a very good novel set in rural Italy in the 1950s. I gave it 4 stars, but just barely, because 3 stars seemed too little. There are many interesting and enlightening aspects to the book such as the impact of emigration, the nature of village community life, traditional family structures, gender inequality, and inflexible social mores. The most important theme, I found, was the tragic impact of inflexible social mores on individuals. The details of life in rural Italy reall Lives of the Saints is a very good novel set in rural Italy in the 1950s. I gave it 4 stars, but just barely, because 3 stars seemed too little. There are many interesting and enlightening aspects to the book such as the impact of emigration, the nature of village community life, traditional family structures, gender inequality, and inflexible social mores. The most important theme, I found, was the tragic impact of inflexible social mores on individuals. The details of life in rural Italy really added to the book. It is the first book of a trilogy. The last two books are set in Canada, after the main character has immigrated. Overall, I would recommend Lives of the Saints.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karri-ann Flater

    This is a beautiful and heart-breaking story. It was a book that I couldn't put down. It is very heavy on religious content and references, which threw me off a little. But I guess that should have been expected for a book that has "Saints" in the title. And especially for one that is based in Italy. But this book gave a good feel for what life may have been like during that time and in that area of the world. This is a beautiful and heart-breaking story. It was a book that I couldn't put down. It is very heavy on religious content and references, which threw me off a little. But I guess that should have been expected for a book that has "Saints" in the title. And especially for one that is based in Italy. But this book gave a good feel for what life may have been like during that time and in that area of the world.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sam Bronstein

    The plotline is singular. While the book is written from a child's perspective it still lacks depth. The plot cuts off at the end without a thought through creation. The best part about this book is the authors ability to create the world of old school Italy. It took me forever to read and I don't recommend this book to anyone looking for a good fun read. The plotline is singular. While the book is written from a child's perspective it still lacks depth. The plot cuts off at the end without a thought through creation. The best part about this book is the authors ability to create the world of old school Italy. It took me forever to read and I don't recommend this book to anyone looking for a good fun read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gurleen

    Had to read it for Grade 11 U English and all I can say is that the book was good. It had its suspense, for a little while, but 7 chapters later you understand the entire plot and start to find the book lame. This entire novel was from the perspective of a 7 year old kid, which means it gets confusing for us readers to understand what's going on. Had to read it for Grade 11 U English and all I can say is that the book was good. It had its suspense, for a little while, but 7 chapters later you understand the entire plot and start to find the book lame. This entire novel was from the perspective of a 7 year old kid, which means it gets confusing for us readers to understand what's going on.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mar

    The book is okay. I doubt I'll read the other two in the trilogy. The book is narrated by a 7-year old in Italy. His dad has gone to make it rich in America--really Canada--and he lives with his mom and grandfather. His mom becomes pregnant as the result of an affair and village scandal results. The book is okay. I doubt I'll read the other two in the trilogy. The book is narrated by a 7-year old in Italy. His dad has gone to make it rich in America--really Canada--and he lives with his mom and grandfather. His mom becomes pregnant as the result of an affair and village scandal results.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    A young boy in a small rural Italian town, living with his Mother and Grandfather, his Father having fled to Canada. The book is filled with descriptions of Italian traditions, superstitions and beliefs. A hard childhood, with an even harder future. A thoughtful and sad story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Life with his mother is seen through young Vittorio Innocente in Italy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Debi Robertson

    Interesting. Well written. Not my cup of tea but has been on my to-read shelf for a long time now.

  17. 5 out of 5

    sofia

    good story but hard to get through

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Another highly regarded literary prize-winning book that did nothing for me except leave me feeling a little sad.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carla Barkman

    Perfect.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Arlie

    Poignant. Sad. A lonely childhood.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Surreysmum

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Had this novel ended after 200 pages, I probably would have called it well-observed, low-key, a little distant and foreign to me. There is relatively little incident in it, though most of the main characters end up getting physically injured, through fist-fighting, snake-bite, geriatric falls or other happenstances of life in a somewhat rough-and-tumble, very small Italian town post WW II. It is told from the point of view of Vittorio, a young boy, but with a fairly adult understanding (though w Had this novel ended after 200 pages, I probably would have called it well-observed, low-key, a little distant and foreign to me. There is relatively little incident in it, though most of the main characters end up getting physically injured, through fist-fighting, snake-bite, geriatric falls or other happenstances of life in a somewhat rough-and-tumble, very small Italian town post WW II. It is told from the point of view of Vittorio, a young boy, but with a fairly adult understanding (though without any spoilerish references to future events). We are, however, left to glean for ourselves, from the plentiful evidence, that Vittorio's mother Cristina - effectively a single mother, since her husband has emigrated without her to America - has had an adulterous affair and is now pregnant. Much of the novel shows Cristina defiantly dealing with the fallout of this in her family and small community, where she does not conform to expected behaviour. Meanwhile, Vittorio also feels the backlash at school (it is a sympathetic schoolmistress who preserves him from the worst of the after-school bullying by holding him back to sweep the floor and listen to stories of the lives of the saints). Cristina escapes into the big world - specifically an ocean liner taking her and Vittorio to Halifax, where she does not intend to re-join her husband. Here are a brand new set of characters and a brand new set of social mores (there's a fairly amusing byplay with the Captain's jealous wife). But the real world turns out to be too big and cruel for Cristina, and there is a catastrophic conclusion for her and her unborn child. I've left that vague for the sake of future readers, but I suppose even that deserves a spoiler tag. For me, the first part of the novel was a pleasant read, but it was the conclusion, with its sudden, violent action, that gripped me and that now remains chiefly in my memory a few weeks after finishing the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    Excellent story, so well written

  23. 4 out of 5

    MST

    This book is everything a good read should be. Great story, great characters, twists and turns. Timeless.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Jury

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. filled with great literary devices and metaphors but boring plot.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

    The writing was interesting but not sure enough happened in the story to keep me interested. I see it's the first of 3 in a series and has me interested to see where it goes. The writing was interesting but not sure enough happened in the story to keep me interested. I see it's the first of 3 in a series and has me interested to see where it goes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paula Dembeck

    This was Ricci’s first novel, published in 1990. It is the story of Vittorio Innocente, told in his words in three novels of which this is the first. When we meet Vitto, he is a seven year old boy living in the small Italian village of Valle del Sol with his wildly independent mother Christina and his grandfather the mayor of the town. Vitto’s father Mario has immigrated to America to make a better life for them and meanwhile Vitto and his mother have been left at home. In our first encounter wit This was Ricci’s first novel, published in 1990. It is the story of Vittorio Innocente, told in his words in three novels of which this is the first. When we meet Vitto, he is a seven year old boy living in the small Italian village of Valle del Sol with his wildly independent mother Christina and his grandfather the mayor of the town. Vitto’s father Mario has immigrated to America to make a better life for them and meanwhile Vitto and his mother have been left at home. In our first encounter with Vitto he has just had a curious experience, catching his mother in the stable with a “blue eyed stranger”. As he witnesses this escapade, a snake, a feared Italian sign of sin and evil, bites his mother’s ankle and escapes from the barn. Vitto has no idea what he has witnessed or its implications. As a naïve young boy, he leads a simple life, going to school, spending time with his solitary friend Fabrizio and his grandfather, and all the while trying to figure out exactly what is going on. The villagers, aware of Christina’s affair scorns her and she becomes the victim of gossip and scandal. They consider her a whore who sleeps around while her poor hard working husband Mario sends her money from America. They also believe she must be shunned and that horrible things will happen to them if they interact with her. When Christina completely dismisses the existence of the snake’s “evil eye”, this makes things worse. She walks through the street with her head held high as if her neighbour’s ridicule and mockery does not affect her. This deepens their scorn as the villagers place great importance on their long held traditions. They believe Christina should go to confession or take the heart out of a chicken, burn the carcass and pray to God. Amidst all this gossip, turmoil and scorn, Vitto’s grandfather resigns as mayor and the rift between Vitto’s mother and his grandfather deepens to such an extent they no longer speak to each other. At this point Christina is living isolated in her own home and rarely if ever goes out. Gradually Vitto is able to make the connection between the snake, the blue eyed man, his mother’s sudden pregnancy, his school friend bullying and the family’s isolation. Finally, Christina, fed up with her neighbour’s ridicule, and believing she has ideals and beliefs that are very different from them, decides to emigrate to Canada to seek a better life. There are hints that she is not going to be with her husband Mario but instead will meet up with the “blue eyed” man. On their trip overseas, the boat is caught in a terrible storm. Christina goes into labour and dies in childbirth, but the baby girl lives. Vitto then meets his father once he has landed in Canada. I really enjoyed this beautifully written story and its wonderful characters. Some reviewers have criticized the inclusion of the Italian dialect sprinkled occasionally throughout the text, most of which is quite understandable although I admit some of it is not. It did not bother me as much, and actually helped to create the atmosphere of a small Italian village in my mind’s eye. Another criticism has been the voice of Vitto who has told the story using speech that is not consistent with a seven year olds vocabulary. I never thought the story originated from the mouth of a seven year old, but rather was a story told by an adult looking back and telling it through the voice of a young boy. There is a good description of village life as well as an understanding of small town politics, the importance of ritual and the vagaries of superstition and religion. Some feel that on the whole, the novel has too much description, but I believe that is part of its charm. I agree the story ends abruptly, but believe that is just an incentive to bridge us to the next part of the story in the second volume of the trilogy. To me it seemed a good place to end the first part and I will definitely read the next two. An award winner, including the 1990 Governor General’s Award. A highly recommended read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    (view spoiler)[This was one of the books Kathy brought to me when I was having my operation. Great novel (and I indeed thought so at the time), but tainted with the time, and my nervousness. Probably worth reading again. And like all great books, it must END. "I realized with a start that I'd been singing out loud, a small mumble that died now as I became aware of it. I glanced behind me to see if anyone had heard. My mother's grey-eyed German friend had just come onto the sun deck with a young (view spoiler)[This was one of the books Kathy brought to me when I was having my operation. Great novel (and I indeed thought so at the time), but tainted with the time, and my nervousness. Probably worth reading again. And like all great books, it must END. "I realized with a start that I'd been singing out loud, a small mumble that died now as I became aware of it. I glanced behind me to see if anyone had heard. My mother's grey-eyed German friend had just come onto the sun deck with a young woman; but they eased themselves into deck chairs without noticing me, laughing and talking in a language I couldn't understand. In my pant pocket, where I'd put it that morning before the funeral, was my lucky one lira, and I pulled it out now to look at it. The coin was shiny and slick from handling; but the imprint had not worn away, as it did sometimes on older five and ten lire—the lines were still visible on the eagle's wings, and the mark where Luciano had said a bullet had hit. But when I flipped the coin over to look at the bust on the other side, it slipped through my fingers—easily almost, without resistance, as if I had not tried to stop it, or had not believed it could fall; though now that it was falling my limbs seemed to have grown too thick and slow to stop it. For a long instant it tumbled down, winking darkly at me in the dying light as if to send me some final secret message, some magic consolation, if only I could make it out; but at last it fell with a hollow clang to the deck, where it rolled for a moment in a wide slow arc before titling fatally toward the rails, and tumbling out to sea." (hide spoiler)] It was a long time since I read this book. Reading the beginning reminds me why I liked it (gorgeous writing), although not much remains in my memory. Thus it BEGINS, with a bang. "If this story has a beginning, a moment at which a single gesture broke the surface of events like a stone thrown into the sea, the ripples cresting away endlessly, then that beginning occurred on a hot July day in the year 1960, in the village of Valle del Sole, when my mother was bitten by a snake."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Spencer

    In the first novel of Nino Ricci's famous trilogy we are introduced to Vittorio Innocente, a seven year old Italian boy living with his mother (Cristina) and grandfather in the quaint city of La Valle Del Sole. They have a simple life; Vittorio goes to school, his mother tends to the farm and his grandfather looks over the town as mayor. But it does not remain simple for long. In no time at all, due to a few mistakes, their pleasant lifestyle takes a drastic turn for the worst. Their close knit In the first novel of Nino Ricci's famous trilogy we are introduced to Vittorio Innocente, a seven year old Italian boy living with his mother (Cristina) and grandfather in the quaint city of La Valle Del Sole. They have a simple life; Vittorio goes to school, his mother tends to the farm and his grandfather looks over the town as mayor. But it does not remain simple for long. In no time at all, due to a few mistakes, their pleasant lifestyle takes a drastic turn for the worst. Their close knit community, set in their religious ways, is suspicious when Cristina is bitten by the ominous snake (symbol of sins and evil) and unforgiving when she is impregnated by a man unknown. No longer respected or cared for; Cristina lives in seclusion, imprisoning herself in her own home. Vittorio, being young and oblivious, doesn't notice things transpiring. He fails to make a connection between a blue-eyed man he'd previously seen with his mother, her all of a sudden pregnancy and the isolation that his family has come to endure. It isn't until his mother stops talking, his peers begin to bully him and his grandfather resigns as mayor that he finally comes to his senses. He realizes his family's unfortunate predicament and goes to extreme lengths to fix it. Nino Ricci's portrayal of Cristina was entertaining and somewhat thought-provoking. She bravely shares her beliefs and opinions with a sense of carelessness. Even though how she acts and what she says is “wrong” and “unacceptable” in her community, she does it anyway, as if there are no consequences. It was interesting to read of someone who was so willing to go against society. Besides the unusual characteristics of Cristina, not much else in this novel was captivating. Although many strange incidents occur, none of them were gripping. This book is suitable for an age group that can fully grasp and appreciate the underlying meaning behind the life story of Vittorio (Ages 40-up).  

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eric Thompson

    I finished reading this novel; and my final thoughts were I didn’t want to read this novel ever again. Lives of the Saints is a slow, depressing, and takes a long time for the characters to develop I feel. The main thing I didn’t like about the story is that it was set in post war Europe and that the Author was using a lot of Italian phrases that made absolutely no sense to me. It’s a well written book and I will give the author that; but I feel like a missed a lot in the book just by not knowin I finished reading this novel; and my final thoughts were I didn’t want to read this novel ever again. Lives of the Saints is a slow, depressing, and takes a long time for the characters to develop I feel. The main thing I didn’t like about the story is that it was set in post war Europe and that the Author was using a lot of Italian phrases that made absolutely no sense to me. It’s a well written book and I will give the author that; but I feel like a missed a lot in the book just by not knowing all the Italian phrases or just the exceptionally dull story line. This book is narrated by a seven year old that catches his mother committing adultery with a thing/person that they call “The Blue-Eyed man”. The book is very dramatic and a little mysterious because I feel that there are little hidden messages from “The Blue-Eyed man”. First off; the book quality was fair. It was fair because I fell asleep reading the book because about seventy five percent of the book is boring and dull. It’s dramatic and I like a little bit of that and it was spaced out in the story well. The author could have done a few things better; shorten up the story and take all the mind numbing story out that doesn’t need to be in there or spice it up a bit. The main portion of the story is in the last five or so chapters; so if it progressively went up in the story I would have liked it a lot more. Lots of people might like this story and I accept that. The person that would like this book is an English teacher or any other human being over 18. Why did I choose the magic number 18? I chose it because anyone under that age I feel would get about less than six chapters into the book and fall asleep and never pick it up again.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Wong

    As soon as I finished reading this novel, I wanted to start all over again. Lives of the Saints is a kind of compelling story-telling which is hewn out of rock in an effort to remember (and perhaps again to drink of) the waters that had been there to shape it. For it is rock that we climb, live in, and come down from, rock inside our fists we throw and hurl as we follow the young boy Vitto ["Ho! Vitto!"] and his mother Cristina ["Beh! E' scimunita tua mamma..."]. And it is waters that hurl us, t As soon as I finished reading this novel, I wanted to start all over again. Lives of the Saints is a kind of compelling story-telling which is hewn out of rock in an effort to remember (and perhaps again to drink of) the waters that had been there to shape it. For it is rock that we climb, live in, and come down from, rock inside our fists we throw and hurl as we follow the young boy Vitto ["Ho! Vitto!"] and his mother Cristina ["Beh! E' scimunita tua mamma..."]. And it is waters that hurl us, that come down our cheeks, that we cross, that kill us. There is much to enjoy about this story, for even the secondary characters are their own, such as la maestra and the stories of the saints [and the saints themselves] the teacher reads out of a book to Vitto, and Vitto's friend Fabrizio whom he mistakes to be miles away from home among the throngs waving goodbye to him at the pier. The village of Valle del Sole's only car and Cazzingulo's always crowded truck, and even the sheep being made to jump inside holes, the head of a chicken watching out of its dead eyes a pagan ritual pyre, and "five feet long" are not obscure. I had a chance a few weeks ago to hear the author Nino Ricci during a panel at the IIC [Italian Cultural Institute, Consulate General of Italy] in Toronto, which led me to seek out one of his published stories. Beh, I was indeed rewarded for trying or for being led to it.

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