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Claudio Piersanti: Charles [Charles]

Though the main character – Giorgio – is Italian, much of this novel is set in Paris, where Giorgio is an eye surgeon. Giorgio is divorced and essentially bored with his life. He hangs around with Michel and they chase women together, go out drinking. Giorgio has one big problem in is life – his younger brother, Piero. As we (and Giorgio) later find out, Piero is involved in a terrorist group. Giorgio and Michel meet up with him on holiday in Italy, where Piero asks for his help and he soon finds that the Italian and French police are after him.

However, before the Piero episode, Giorgio has met Charles, a 12 year old French boy whose father has gone insane and whose mother has fled to America, while he is now living with his uncle Roger. (Roger is also living with Renée, Michel’s sister, which explains how he meets Charles.) Giorgio’s relationship with Charles is strange. For Giorgio, Charles is somewhat the son he never had and for Charles, Giorgio is perhaps his missing father. However the strange thing about the relationship – and this is remarked on by Roger as well – is that Charles seems to like nothing better than to listen to tape recordings of stories told by Giorgio from his Italian childhood. It is therefore no surprise when Giorgio turns to Charles for help when he needs to hide Piero. Of course, it all goes wrong, ending in Piero’s death, and this hurts the relationship between Charles and Giorgio. But, in the meantime, Piersanti has given us an enjoyable tale of relationships, stories and how things can go wrong.

Publishing history

First published in Italian 1986 by Il lavoro editoriale, Ancona
No English translation