Monday, May 27, 2013

78. The Betrothed

The Betrothed
Alessandro Manzoni
Around 500 pages

I just got back from a vacation to Maui.  It was absolutely beautiful and I got to do one of my favorite things in the world there: read in a gorgeous setting.  In the course of my week long vacation, I got to read Fahrenheit 451, Cat's Cradle, The Blind Assassin, Inferno, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and this novel.  Yeah, it was a great trip.

Anyway, let's talk about this book, which I never would have heard of had it not been for The List.  This is surprising, because apparently this is the most widely read Italian novel of all time.  I just don't understand how this book could still be considered relevant today.  Let me explain…

This is the story of Lucia and Renzo, who want desperately to get married.  However, various people and events get in the way of their nuptials.  For instance, Don Roderigo is in love with Lucia so he forbids the wedding.  He also kidnaps Lucia, because hey, that is what was done back then.  In her darkest hour, Lucia vows to God that she will become a nun if she lives through this.  Through a few extraordinary circumstances, she does happen to live through it and then is forced to give up Renzo.  Remember, this is just one example of the many obstacles that the lovers face.

Like I said, I could not relate to the novel at all.  I don't want to push any religious buttons here, but I am an atheist, so many of the "problems" that Lucia faced seemed to me easily solvable.  Additionally, the melodramatic crises that Renzo faced were unusual, bordering on absurd.

So this is a hard novel to connect to and I wasn't that taken away by the style to be impressed.  Renzo and Lucia are pretty much the same old kinds of characters (a sweet, beautiful virgin and a hotheaded lovesick hero). I probably should mention that the author describes the plague that hit Milan in the early 1600s in heavy detail, which was the most interesting part for me.  Other than that, nothing to write home about.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

First Italian historical novel.

UP NEXT: Red and Black by Stendhal

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