Exploring the Theme of Love in Lalla Romano’s “A Silence Shared”

Lalla Romano’s 1957 novel A Silence Shared, newly translated by Brian Robert Moore and released in 2023, is a powerful reminder of the power of what we don’t say. Set in Northwest Italy during World War II, the novel follows the story of Giulia, a woman who has been commissioned to translate Gustave Flaubert’s 1877 collection Three Tales. Giulia strikes up a friendship with a young married couple, Ada and Paolo, and visits them at their home in the countryside. Through her vivid visual descriptions of the winter landscape, Romano captures the emotional movement of the characters as Giulia comes in from the cold. The novel is deeply rooted in Romano’s own life, as she was also separated from her husband during World War II. Moore’s change of title follows the example of the French translation, which took its inspiration from the book’s epigraph, from a poem by Pavese: “The only true silence / is a silence shared”. This change is wholly appropriate since the story is densely woven with poignant silences. Through her writing, Romano shares these unspoken, “frozen” emotions, showing us the potential actions and futures the characters deny themselves. A Silence Shared is a powerful reminder of the power of what we don’t say and how we construct and remember the lives we lead. Book bloggers will be sure to appreciate this timeless story of love and loss.

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