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Hidden beneath a trapdoor,
This review is from: Without Blood (Paperback)
A very short (87 pages) novella set in Italy just after the second world war, then many years later in a modern-day unnamed Italian city, this is a harsh, powerful story of a feud between the two opposite poles of Italian politics, I assume, between communist and fascist elements, though this is not made clear, and does not really matter.
It is highly atmospheric in its opening, in the Italian countryside, a remote farmhouse, a father, a young son and daughter and the arrival of a group of men bent on murder. Nina, the little girl aged about ten, is hidden beneath a trapdoor, the boy is sent to hide elsewhere. The man suspects that he himself will not survive and wants his son to rescue his daughter from beneath the floorboards, when the shooting stops. But the boy is courageous enough to try and save his father and is killed. The gang, including Tito, a young foot-soldier, are aware that there is a daughter and Tito is sent to search the house for her. He finds the trapdoor, but does not tell the others where she is.
When they leave, one of the gang is sent back to torch the house, and Tito is distraught - he had wanted to save the innocent little girl, lying in her hiding place.
Many years later an old woman and a lottery ticket seller meet in a city and give their different versions of this story. This second half of the story is less powerful, more muddled and indefinite. Nina survived, Tito is confronted, but their stories of what happened afterwards conflict and there is no resolution possible. The feud has ended here, and one senses the futility of lives lived in fear and endless retribution.