I was drawn to Marco Missiroli’s loyalty by his title and thought it might be an interesting companion to Sue Miller’s monogamy, which I enjoyed so much last year. That and his coat with those eyes that look so straight at the camera. It takes place in Milan and covers nine years in the life of a couple, starting in 2009, when they are in their thirties and without children for their first marital crisis. What if betrayal was his way of becoming faithful to Margherita again?
Carlo committed an indiscretion with one of his students, whom Carlo and Margherita call “the misunderstanding”. Their marriage is happy, always full of desires, but Carlo begins to wonder what it could be like to be unfaithful. Margherita is passion with Sofia even after falling out of her course after Carlo fails to recognize the news she has submitted as her own disaster. She begins to harbor fantasies that focus on Andrea, her body therapist, who must overcome her own venereal problems.
The bottom line of their life together remains – Margherita’s visits to her widowed mother and her determination to buy one of the apartments from her real estate ads aren’t against a crooked little company getting it; Carlo fills his part-time education with writing tourist guides, frustrated by his inability to produce a novel. Nine years after, now staying with her son in the long-awaited apartment, the old passion is revived when Carlo begins to receive packages of books from Rimini, Sofia’s hometown.
He thought of his wife every time he reads about falling in love missiroli explores his theme of marital fidelity through Carlo, Margherita, Andrea, Sofia and Margherita’s mother, Anna, in the context of the daily life of the family. It took me a while to get used to his style, alternating perspectives between these five, often in continuous prose, but patience pays off. Carlo and Margherita each find their way to meet their different attitudes towards fidelity, but not without cost, while the stories of Sofia, Andrea and Anna reinforce the theme of Missiroli. All five of them are drawn with InSight – their desires, frustrations, aspirations and desires – but Anna is depicted in the most touching way by memories of her own marriage and the suppression of her ambitions. In the end, it’s as much a novel about the pressures and pull of love and family loyalty as it is about desire and loyalty. A successful piece of fiction, albeit a slow burner for me, firmly rooted in Milan, a city I wanted to visit last year before the Coronavirus took over the world.