WHISPERING TIDES by Guido Mattioni, trans., William Marino and Daniela Zoppini, is a shining love story, one that gripped me from its opening pages. I read it straight through from cover to cover, mulled over my notes, skipped back and forth, re-read the highlights. Surprised and delighted in equal measure by its ending, I continue to ponder the meaning of the story and am loathe to leave the experience of this wonderful book.
Although it is the chronicle of one man’s grief, WHISPERING TIDES is the story of a humanist and his love for his friends and the south, for the bright mystery of animals, for the unique vision of characters with unfettered souls, for the locals who live in and around Savannah, Georgia.
Dante might say that Alberto Landi, the main character of WHISPERING TIDES, is in the middle of life’s journey and lost in a dark wood. Fifty years old, leading a successful life in Milan and surrounded by the trappings of wealth and glitterati, Alberto suddenly loses the love of his life, Nina, his wife of twenty-three years. His world crashes; he is lost without her. His grief is so deep that he journeys in body, mind and dreams across the globe to Savannah, Georgia, where once he knew happiness. He is in search of the rebirth that the new world and, especially, the southern sentiment and way of life, seem to offer. He stays at the home of a friend where he and his wife had enjoyed happier times. He revisits places and people he loves, commenting on and sharing their uniqueness. Vowing to rebuild his life there, he renounces his former work and possessions. Stripped clean of his old ways, he slowly, painstakingly begins his reawakening. To be more specific would give away the story.
Alberto has a love of Savannah, its history, its people, its animals. Local characters abound. Many are humorous; all are unforgettable. Perhaps my favorite is the statue of James Edward Oglethorpe:
He appeared to be looking South with his right hand softly resting on the hilt of his sword as if to caress it, while his left hand was planted on his side in a posture halfway between that of martial vigilance and male dare. He seemed to be looking towards the Florida border and pondering the fact that there he had tried many times to spot the glittering helmets of Spanish bullies who were greedy for conquest and carrying unmentionable diseases.
The novel is the journey of one man’s dark night of the soul. It is for all of us, a poignant evocation of grief, but it is also a deep affirmation of life. Guido Mattioni’s gift of storytelling is large. His spirit is exuberant. He has the eyes of a humanist and the soul of a poet. I recommend WHISPERING TIDES to all readers who enjoy a good story, but search for meaning in between the words, to those who want to come away from a great read with an even greater understanding of what it means to be human.
WHISPERING TIDES is available in ebook and paperback, in the original Italian and in English translation.
My Rating: 5 Stars
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