The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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Book review: Story within a story, with abortion as a unifying theme

Noel Grima Sunday, 26 May 2024, 08:40 Last update: about 3 months ago

‘Fis-Sajf ta’ zewgt’ibliet’ Author: Salv Sammut Publisher: Horizons /2024 Pages: 239

This latest offering by one of Malta's most prolific authors is a rather unusual one - a story within a story, with abortion as a common theme.

Valeria Martinelli is an Italian gynaecologist who settles in Malta, lives in Mdina, campaigns against abortion and rather incongruously writes poetry and prose.

The second story is one written by Valeria and published with success by famous Italian publishing house Rizzoli.

It tells of the love story of Fabio and Gabriella, two fellow students at the Università La Sapienza.

She comes from a rich and conservative Roman Catholic family while he is the son of a pizza outlet owner at San Gimignano, up in Tuscany.

In no time at all, when the introductions are being made, he finds out that her mother, who he was told is dead, is very much alive but has been kicked out of the family.

Then, bit by bit he reconstructs the whole story. Adultery and treachery play their part, but not abortion so far. This comes in very heavily and in a surprising way towards the end.

In my opinion one cannot really say that the book is "against abortion" as some have said. The book exposes some of the moral aspects or reasons why some people have abortions and then expounds on the guilt feelings that come over after it's done.

But maybe it's rather reductive to describe the two stories as being "about abortion". They are two likeable stories about four protagonists just like us, caught up in the moral dilemmas of today's world.

Who can guarantee we would be better?

What is definitely lacking in this book is attention to detail, especially the place names in Italian - Piazza Pitti, Via del Babuino, Giardino Boboli...

And Rome's second university is La Sapienza, not belonging to a certain Mr Sapienza.


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