The Garden of the Finzi-Continis – Giorgio Bassani

I’m not sure about this one. Possibly it was always onto a loser being read after The Count of Monte Cristo which is tremendous. It’s the story of a reclusive wealthy Jewish family in the days of fascism in Italy. As the Jews of the town are gradually thrown out of the public places such as the tennis club and the public library, they meet in the garden of the Finzi-Continis to play tennis, and the narrator finishes his university thesis in the Finzi-Contini library. The backdrop of fascism, of the Jews’ confusion about what would happen (even willful ignorance) and their keenness to be involved in a society that didn’t want them, pervades the book. The story details the narrator’s fascination with the daughter of the Finzi-Continis; but having said that, there’s not a great deal of plot, there’s a lot that isn’t mentioned, and the style itself is lacking something. The characters as far as they are developed are realistic, but even at the end of the book, the reader doesn’t necessarily feel that he understands them. Interesting book, but not one to bury oneself in – there’s just not enough meat in it for that.

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