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Milena Ercolani: Figlie della luna [Daughters of the Moon]

This is actually a collection of stories but as there is not much else from San Marino and as they have, nominally, a unifying theme, the book is included here. The unifying theme is, apparently, a feminist perspective, though I was not terribly convinced. The first story, for example, is called Occhi di bimba [Eyes of a Young Girl]. It tells the story from the perspective of a five-year old, Marietta, witnessing a church wedding. Marietta has questions – about sacraments, the role of God, what a ceremony is and so on. Her mother tries to brush her off and keep her quiet without success. She wants to go and urinate against the wall, because she has seen a boy doing so. Her mother says that it is all right for boys but not for girls. She does not understand why. While Marietta comes out well, the other women do not. Marietta listens to a couple of women making sarcastic comments about the bride, showing that women are merely gossips. Marietta’s mother comes across as somewhat shrewish. The second story – Tre bastano [Three Are Enough] – tells the story of Marta and the three men in her life. She claims to love Tim and is planning to marry him, though he can be somewhat aggressive and sex with him is good but not great. So she has two other men in her life, Lucio the philosopher, her intellectual relationship (though, as her French friend, Juliette, tells her, he is in love with her) and Massimo, the eye doctor, with whom she has a frankly flirtatious relationship. She considers, quite sensibly that these three men are all essential to her well-being.

The next story – Per un fiore rosso [For a Red Flower] – tells the story of Anna. Anna comes from a very strict family. Her father is a lawyer and her mother a maths teacher. At the beginning of the story she is sleeping with married man, almost as old as her father. She imagines the horror her parents would feel if they knew what she was doing. The story tells how Anna comes to be sleeping with this man. Fra illusioni, sogni e moiracoli [Between Illusions, Dreams and Miracles] tells of Faustina, a woman who has a handicapped child and is having an affair with an HIV-positive man. Not surprisingly, she is struggling with both. La Regina [The Queen] is the story of a nurse called Regina but whom everyone calls La Regina (i.e. The Queen) because she is very regal. The story is told by her friend and colleague Marianna and is mainly about Regina’s succession of boyfriends, including a married man who pays for a holiday in Venezuela for both Regina and Marianna. The interestingly named Vergine di Sguardi e Sospiri [Virgin of Looks and Sighs] is about Monica, a young woman from a working class background whose parents have sacrificed much so that their daughters and study can do better than their parents have done. Monica’s sister is studying medicine, while Monica is studying accountancy but she is frequently distracted from her studies and leads a young man, Gigi, on. The final story Un Viaggio [A Journey] tells of a holiday taken in Egypt by an unnamed narrator, with her husband and young son and what happens when she meets Giovanni.

To be honest, these stories are not very good though quite readable. Moreover, I am not sure that they are really feminist, unless, by feminist, you mean that the heroine has an active sex life, including, on several occasions, with married men. The main character in each story is female and, in each story, she does, more or less, make up her own mind. However, this book is only here as there is so little else from San Marino. If you do not read Italian, it is unlikely that you will get the chance to read this.

Publishing history

First published by AIEP in 2009
No English translation