Voices in the Evening, by Natalia Ginzburg, is a book that takes place during the Fascist hold in Italy.
The characters are all intertwined through family and friends. The voices are distinct, as we move from one person to the next, listening to their evening conversations on life, on neighbors and on the village with its ups and downs. The conversations also include snippets of busy-body individuals, feeding on gossip and flourishing the gossip forward.
From the affair between Elsa and Tommasino, the reader is taken on a journey. Elsa is the narrator, and is unmarried, much to the dismay of her mother. Their affair does not take place in the village, and they don’t really have a passionate love affair. That is actually a positive, because neither one of them commits to marriage.
I found the generational aspect of the characters and how they interact to be both poignant and humorous. At times it is almost farcical, but the reality behind the farces are serious and sobering. The small village was filled with narrow-minds, especially the aging individuals, and everyone knew everything about everybody. This was very stifling, to say the least.
Ginzburg writes as if the individuals in the novel are taken from her family. She denies this, but the reader can see that her experiences living in Italy gave her insight into village life. It also gave her insight into how fascism was perceived within the Italian village mindset.
Natalia Ginzburg was brilliant in infusing life into the characters. Her word images were vivid ones. She captures village life adeptly and is masterful with her descriptions. I enjoyed Voices in the Evening, and am glad to have read it.