Lives of the Saints

Lives of the Saints

Book - 1990
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Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Canadian Governor General's Award for Fiction
Set in a small, golden village nestled in folds of the Italian Apennines, The Book of Saints is a deceptively simple novel of startling power and mythic dimension. Young Vittorio Innocente is the pampered son of Cristina, a women whose husband has left Italy for work in North America. Beneath her placid surface, Cristina yearns to escape the restrictive village; and, one day, Vittorio is startled to find her in the family's stable, her ankle swelling from a snakebite. But what really happened to Cristina that day becomes the center of this talea story of passion and superstition beneath pastoral calm, a mother's secret life witnessed by a child. The first novel in a trilogy that follows Vittorio to adulthood, The Book of Saints is Ricci's acclaimed debut.
Publisher: Dunvegan, Ont. : Cormorant Books, c1990
ISBN: 9780312134419
Branch Call Number: FIC Ricci 3205 01
Characteristics: 238 p
Alternative Title: Book of saints


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Nov 22, 2014

Lives of the Saints follows the story of 7 year old Vittorio Innocente and his mother Cristina. When Vittorio stumbles upon his mother having affair with a man he cannot describe other than having “blue-eyes,” the village begins to ostracize Cristina, forcing herself and Vittorio to make drastic changes in their way of life. Superstitions and village beliefs begin to corner Cristina to a point where she decides that it is time she and Vitto broke free from the village’s cruel ways.

The title of the novel comes from the name of the book Vitto’s teacher gave to him over the holidays to read on his own also called “The Lives of the Saints.” This book keeps Vitto company while he, along with his mother, are disliked and shunned by the village. Vitto is able to learn quite a lot from the religious text, and uses what he learns to understand what is happening in his life. Readers are able to see just how much Vitto grows as a person from the start of the novel, to the point where he reads the book his teacher gave to him.

Lives of the Saints takes a different route of storytelling by making the reader see the world from a 7 year olds’ eyes. The reader is given a skewed view of what is happening, due to the fact that Vitto himself does not quite understand what is happening around him. As he pieces information together, so does the reader, giving the reader an interesting reading experience. Although this novel has a fairly slow pace and takes a while to get into, the reader is still left being able to take something out of it. Through the use of symbolism and imagery, readers are given a unique experience and will most definitely be moved by this story.

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