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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Past is a Foreign Country - Il passato è una terra straniera. - By Author Gianrico Carofiglio
Set in 1989, Bari, southern Italy. Giorgio is a 22 year old law student whose life begins to change after he steps in to sort out a fight to help another intended victim, the slightly older charismatic Francesco, the two thereafter become friends. Francesco not the ideal student shows him how to cheat at cards and together they learn to exploit card-sharp for money...
Published on 7 Oct. 2007 by Andrea Bowhill

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Above average crime novel
This was quite a page-turner and I read it very quickly. Thinking back about it, I don't know if I liked best the writing, or the story and the characters! Carofiglio is definitely a good writer, I loved his references to songs and books, and his spare but poetic style.
The chapters with Chiti were particularly interesting and in a way I kept looking forward to them...
Published on 18 Mar. 2009 by Fleur-de-lys


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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Past is a Foreign Country - Il passato è una terra straniera. - By Author Gianrico Carofiglio, 7 Oct. 2007
By 
Andrea Bowhill (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Set in 1989, Bari, southern Italy. Giorgio is a 22 year old law student whose life begins to change after he steps in to sort out a fight to help another intended victim, the slightly older charismatic Francesco, the two thereafter become friends. Francesco not the ideal student shows him how to cheat at cards and together they learn to exploit card-sharp for money. Giorgio becomes more and more fascinated by the way Francesco can manipulate any given situation. Partners in deceit they start to take their gambling to new heights from luxurious villas where the gullible rich play to the dark and dangerous dives with compulsive gamblers. Soon their new found lifestyles gives them access to luxury and sexual adventure. Giorgio enters a world where his own image of himself starts to fragment, revealing someone he no longer recognizes: someone who scares but attracts him.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Chitii of the Carabinieri is investigating a series of brutal rapes in Bari. Chitii is hoping that the women who have been assaulted will provide information and a description of the attacker. Two strands of the story begin to entwine themselves in a shocking and unexpected way.

The author Gianrico Carofiglio uses lines throughout this book for detail and exploration, cleverly leaving us readers to do some thought-provking work, this is something that I thoroughly enjoyed. A quotation was used and intelligently placed earlier on in this Novel, the author's aim I believe was signifying that change was beginning in Giorgio's life, like it had some meaning to himself, but he wasn't sure what it was yet: The Past is a Foreign Country; they do things differently there; taken from the classic novel The Go-Between by English author L.P.Hartley, (for any who have read that book the only real similarities would be the deep psychology, the wonderful intertwined between the lines and two friends spending summer time together and that's where it ends) this storyline in this book is quiet different. The author wants to show the past and present of his main character a young man from a good solid background, whose life gets drawn into crime and violence and begins to lose everything that he once knew and had.

This is a wonderful, stylish, well paced and intense psychological thriller with a very poetic read weaved into it. Carofiglio writing is intelligent and he also displays a realism to human behaviour drawing out all characters from their complex minds unraveling their thoughts, you even start to feel their descent into a life of crime. Francesco in particular, full of influence, charm, just captivating as the anti-hero, teacher of manipulation and deceit. Carofiglio also writes with a lot of clarity in this novel, In fact when reading through you begin to wonder how much of the book seems autobiographical. Gianrico Carofiglio is a former anti-Mafia Judge in Bari, Southern Italy; who has been involved with trails concerning corruption, organized crime and the traffic in human beings this all simply adds authority to this fictional account.

This novel Won the Premio Bancarella prize 2005, whose first winner was Ernest Hemingway in 1953. My congratulation to the author, reading this book was enough to make me backtrack to other books written. A special mention to Howard Curtis for the clear translation, Thank you.

If your looking for an intense psychological thriller with a completely satisfying end this is highly recommended.

Andrea Bowhill
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slippery slopes in Southern Italy, 5 Aug. 2014
By 
Elaine Tomasso (Troon. Uk) - See all my reviews
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This is not my usual fare as I much prefer police procedurals but I wanted to read something by Mr Carofiglio and this was on special so I plunged in. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of a young man's slip, bit by bit, into the seamier side of life. This might be more extreme but we've all dropped our standards at some point and taken at least one step onto the slippery slope (for me it was not doing the dishes straight after eating which eventually led to the kitchen extension I needed to house the dishwasher I needed!) so it's easy to understand at least some of his reasoning. I liked the plot, the way Giorgio seemed to sleepwalk through his moral descent and the characters, who seemed very realistic to me. I found this book to be unusual and worth a read as such.
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5.0 out of 5 stars going wrong, 9 Jan. 2015
By 
terence dooley (camelford, cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This is an original and strange novel about the gradual descent into evil, with hints about how it happens, and I'd say entirely successful and disturbing in its own terms. Boredom and aimlessness seem to be the main culprits in the protagonist Giorgio's case, but also fascination, and money and sex. Missteps on the border of an abyss. Very well written and translated.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 11 Feb. 2008
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I don't know why, in particular, I bought this novel but I am glad that I did. I was looking for something to read over Christmas and this was my pick! It reminded me a little of Michael Dibdin (I wonder why!) with a sound story line and a high quality prose. I must have been impressed because I have since ordered his back catalogue...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Temptation, 26 Aug. 2010
By 
Ted Feit (Long Beach, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Past Is a Foreign Country (Paperback)
The evil one does lives long after him. Or does it? That is the gist of this extraordinary tale about Giorgio, a young man studying to be a lawyer in a small Italian city who is drawn into a relationship with a person with few or no morals.

That person, Francesco, teaches him various card tricks and together they begin to play poker as a team, winning substantial sums. Consequently, Giorgio begins to lose interest in his studies as large amount of sums begin to accumulate and he has the wherewithal to buy luxuries, including a BMW automobile. Then little by little, Francesco lures him into other nefarious schemes.

Meanwhile, a serial rapist is active in the town, and the police and other law enforcement agencies are baffled and without a clue. In the end, both elements of the plot come together to provide a moral. While the insights into Giorgio's character and reactions are less than penetrating, the writing is smooth and on the whole this is a fascinating story, and one which is recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Above average crime novel, 18 Mar. 2009
This was quite a page-turner and I read it very quickly. Thinking back about it, I don't know if I liked best the writing, or the story and the characters! Carofiglio is definitely a good writer, I loved his references to songs and books, and his spare but poetic style.
The chapters with Chiti were particularly interesting and in a way I kept looking forward to them because I didn't know what was going to happen, whether they'd solve the case or not. While on the other hand the main story with Giorgio and Francesco had a definite course that was obvious from the beginning. The only surprise would be whether Francesco would drag Giorgio down to hell with him all the way or would he get away in the end.
Too bad that the second plot is not as well developed as the first one. I hope that the author writes more books with mysterious Lieutenant Chiti!
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read., 25 Aug. 2014
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An excellent story. I thoroughly enjoyed it , could hardly put down. Have read some of his other novels and all have been good. Having been a judge, makes them all the more authentic. Recommend it highly.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shallow, relative to his others?, 24 Feb. 2008
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I just couldn't warm to this one despite having read 3 of Carofiglio's books and being impressed with them all.

Giorgio, a trainee lawyer, relates his experiences in learning how to cheat at cards and dabbling in drugs and sexual adventures. All of this in association with his friend Francesco. In the meantime, a number of girls are being attacked and the carabinieri sets out to find who has been responsible for the attacks. Giorgio's story is told in the first person and the police investigations are related in the third person.

The novel is meant to be a psychological thriller, and perhaps it is, but I really felt it lacked depth. I would have thought you need richer characterisations in a novel which is psychological in nature, but I found most of the characters to be lifeless and I couldn't warm to the aimless Giorgio.

I also missed the insights and humour Carofiglio's other books contain.

As I say, I enjoyed all of his other books, which are all short at around 250 pages, but this one just didn't do it for me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual treat, 15 Oct. 2014
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A short and tightly written tale of youthful error in the Italy of the late 1980's. Well worth a visit.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not terrifically memorable., 31 Aug. 2014
By 
Ms. Fiona Allen "catlover" (edinburgh, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Past Is a Foreign Country (Paperback)
Yet another book I don't really remember reading. So I clearly didn't hate it.
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