Winter's Night, A Paperback – 13 Sep 2012
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A page-turning, enjoyable...read, this charms the reader with its many timeless folktales and eclectic cast of characters. --We Love This Book
A solid, credible, satisfying examination of the destruction of a way of life. --Kirkus Reviews
Told in the tradition of country folktales and framed by the devastating years of strife [...] these stories will delight readers from the first page to the last. --Good Reads
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Top Customer Reviews
One evening in January, 1914, a neighbor, arrives, alarmed by his encounter with a stranger whose eyes "were as red as a demon's." The stranger insists that he has seen "the golden goat" in the hills in front of him, "shining in the middle of the swirling snow." The goat's red eyes suggest the devil, and the old man's sudden disappearance emphasizes his own other-worldly origins. In the past, each sighting of the golden goat has presaged some disaster, and this sighting is interpreted as signifying "a catastrophe the likes of which no one has ever seen." A few months later, World War I begins.
The war changes the very heart of the nation, and no one can ever believe again in the simplicity of a golden goat as an explanation for the catastrophes that have affected the country. All seven Bruni sons participate in this war.Read more ›
It is Italy. It is January 2014. The poverty of the peasants living in the town and countryside near Bologna is unbelievable. There is starvation, and the deaths of young children. It seems mediaeval.
The peasants work the land, and are paid in Spring and in kind (wheat etc) by the landlord after all the produce has been sent to him – and this is checked. He takes his cut, good harvests or bad. When the harvest is bad, as this year, there will be hunger.
The people are superstitious, and believe in portents. There is word that “the golden goat” has been seen, and so there will be a disaster. With our knowledge of history we are aware of what the disaster might be. Otherwise we would be no better off than the peasants, waiting for the next bad thing to be “the disaster”. Sure enough, though, the harvest has just come to an end when we hear of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir of the Austro-Hungarian emperor, by the Bosnian student, Gavrilo Princip.
We then follow the fortunes of the Bruni, a kind and gentle hard-working family who have a large barn which they use to give shelter and food to waifs and strays and victims of the poor harvest, especially during the severe upland winters. The original Italian title is “Hotel Bruni”.
We move through the First World War which all the sons, unbelievably survive. Then we have the Great Depression during which things are as tough as they are anywhere for the less well off.
The Fascist time arrives, with its posturing and bullying, the scum floating to the top of the pot, and the take-over by thugs. The Bruni are socialist, so things are even harder for them.Read more ›
The novel's great strengths are the well-sketched characters and their interactions as well as a smoothly flowing storyline that builds on vignettes, one after the other. Characters come and go, as one generation replaces the previous. While there is incremental progress for the Brunis and their extended families, the plagues of war, economic hardship and government repression are never distance.
"A Winter's Night" is so well done, that I'm going to try author Manfredi's other novels soon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Incredibly different to his more usual books but an emotional story which makes one think that he must have lived it if not personally then through parties he had known.Published 15 months ago by Max Wallace
Not a novel which is what this author usually writes. A very touching story about a terrible war, the Great War!Published on 16 July 2013 by Peter Schaad
Another great tale by the author though quite different from his usual dip into the ancient past. This book introduces us to the Bruni family and tells the story over the course... Read morePublished on 26 May 2013 by Arvadal
Another hugely successful work by one of my favourite writers. A moving story with wonderful characterisation, tracing the life of a family through two warsPublished on 21 April 2013 by J Bailey