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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 6 May 2017
This e-book edition by Pilot Productions does have an active table of contents, and it is worth reading the biographical notes at the back as there then follows three tales that were written before the Don Camillo tales but set in the same area.

For millions throughout the world the stories of Don Camillo and other characters have become well loved favourites, my first introduction being the TV series shown on the BBC when I was still quite young. Getting the books out of the library and reading them all for me was thus a real pleasure, and I have been re-reading them ever since. The biographical piece in this book tells you also about the inspiration for the character of the priest.

Set just after the Second World War the tales all take place in the Po Valley in a small town, where Don Camillo is the priest, and the Communist, Peppone is the mayor. The third main character here is Jesus, who speaks through his image on the altar’s crucifix, and is quite ready to reprimand the priest and his actions.

With a host of supporting characters, those being in the small town and surrounding area this is a place where anything can happen, but every little thing can be used politically, a thing quite common in the Italy of the period, and still a common enough used motive over many issues throughout the world. Using satire we see the stance of the Catholic Church versus the Italian Communist Party here, although in some stories other parties do pop up from time to time.

With Don Camillo and Peppone often at loggerheads they have a sort of love/ hate relationship, and as both fought against the German forces so they do have a common purpose. But at times things can really boil over, and Jesus always has to remind the priest to show patience and understanding. Therefore we have a series of interconnecting short stories here, although perhaps episodes would be a better description, where you are made to laugh as well as think. Jesus being in these tales does not make this religious, because really at times he is the voice of reason, showing tolerance and understanding which the other two don’t.

The other really humorous thing about these tales is that however angry both the main characters get towards each other there is always respect and a feeling of mutual assistance, and so they can end up helping each other out as much as causing arguments and rivalry to occur.

In all this is a really charming and witty read and is great to read straight off, or to just dip into from time to time.
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on 5 October 2015
Wow! Giovanni Guareschi is one of my favourite authors. I've read every one of his Don Camillo stories that was available in English. I even bought the complete set in Italian, even though I don't speak much Italian. Why? Because there were only around half of the stories available in English. (The stories were originally published in the US by a Catholic publisher at the height of McCarthyism, so it wasn't just necessary to show the Catholic church in a good light, but also to show the communists in a bad light. Everything else was suppressed. I'm pleased I live in a free society).
But not any more.
When Guareschi's family found out a few years ago what had happened, they agreed to these new translations. Unfortunately Guareschi died in 1968, just after I was born (these two events are not linked) and suddenly I have twice as many stories to read! What an amazing gift! Wow!
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on 23 March 2014
A long time ago a large body of Giovannino Guareschi's Don Camillo stories were translated and published by Gollancz in the UK in conjunction with a TV series produced by the BBC and Italian national TV. I watched the series and bought the book and loved both. I still have the book but it is somewhat aged and dogeared now. I was therefore delighted to see the stories available for my kindle. This is not the entire collection of stories or even the subset published by Gollancz but it is a substantive body of the authors work and an excellent start on translating these stories. The publishers propose to translate and publish more of the stories in the future.

The stories revolve around the life of a small Italian village in the period following the second world war and centre on the interactions of two key personalities. Don Camillo is the villages somewhat unorthodox and turbulent priest. Pippone, his opposite is a former resistance fighter and the communist mayor of the village. Although the world view of these two characters is diametrically opposed the stories frequently unite these two unlikely allies as they both in their own ways strive for the good of the village and its inhabitants.

The stories are full of life, laughter and a smattering of Italian sunshine. They are a tonic after our foul winter and as relevant today as when they were penned about 50 years ago.
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on 22 October 2013
These are beautiful beautiful stories.

They tell of life in an Italian village on the banks of the River Po, coping with grinding poverty in the aftermath of the Second World War. The two main protagonists are deadly political enemies, the Communist mayor and the parish priest. Both characters are strong and admirable, but magnificently flawed. They are built like tanks, squabble and abuse each other, sometimes physically, but - here's the key - they love each other to bits, though neither would dream of admitting it. The reader isn't expected to take sides - moral victory can go either way.

The stories are short, perfect for bedtime, told in economical prose that is so skilfully written that you don't notice how good it is. There is love hate fear and death, but above all wonderful quiet humour. After each one, even when you have read them all a dozen times, you will either wipe a tear from your eye or chuckle yourself to sleep.

There are stories in this book never before translated to English - which is why I bought it. The translation is new, and (to an afficionado) a bit like the NIV Bible after the King James version. I prefer the old version, but there, I've been reading these stories for 50 years.

(Added later) On more reading I have to say that this translation is pretty clunky. Get the original version if you can.
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on 21 March 2016
These are charming short stories of life in an Italian village, where the communist mayor and village priest wage daily ideological battle. Somehow they manage to resolve problems with a touch of humanity while preserving but bending their respective dogmas.

The narrative is episodic, so is a little frustrating, to be read in short doses. The grand theme is the daily compromises which help a community get along with each other, solve problems, and achieve improvements. This is a mix of cunning tricks combined with gaining understanding of each other's background.
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on 29 April 2018
Why don’t they write stories like this today? I remember reading these tales as a immature youth a long time ago, but the story line remained with me. The moral message of these tales should be included in the reading curriculum of any country. The tales are humorous and what better way to learn when you are enjoying yourself.
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on 10 August 2017
I read these stories about Don Camillo when I was in my early twenties and found them very amusing and loved reading them. Now nearly forty years on I have re-visited this book and can only say that all the humour and intrigue between Don Camillo (priest), Peppone (the Communist Mayor) and Jesus has not lost any of its appeal. Each chapter is a different story set at the end of the second world war in Italy and they're told with a lightness of touch and humour that you would not expect from such a subject matter. I find myself laughing out loud at times at the outrageous antics of both Don Camillo and Peppone, who are constantly at war with each other, but occasionally they find themselves reluctantly on the same side, but only temporarily.
I highly recommend reading these stories, you will hopefully be surprised at how much you enjoy them.
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on 6 March 2014
In the 1960's Brian Blessed played the role of Pepponi, the communist town mayor in a TV adaption of Guareschi's Little World of Don Camillo. I didn't come across a book until the 1980's and enjoyed it so much that wherever we went I trawled through book stores looking for Don Camillo.
With the advent of the world wide web I managed to get copies of the whole Don Camillo series via sellers in America and across the UK. The Little World is set in a community of Northern Italy by the River Po.
There are 2 pratagonists; Don Camillo the fist-swinging Catholic Priest and his nemesis, Pepponi the town's communist mayor.
The stories are funny, sometimes poignant; but always uplifting
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on 1 November 2017
Read these stories as a teenager and enjoyed them thoroughly. As an adult they are even more entertaining, reflecting how rural life in Italy amidst the confusion and the upheaval following the war must have been. Humorous gentle moralising over our weaknesses and strengths is simply done and leaves you feeling that good usually prevails though not always in the way we expect. Don Camilo is shown to be just a man, flaws and all, and his conversations with Jesus are always the highlight of these short stories.
Feel good reading.
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I remember The Little World of Don Camillo from the BBC TV series in the 1980s and, more recently, from BBC Radio 4's dramatisations. Therefore I was extremely pleased to find that the original stories had been republished.

Coming from the perspective of the TV/Radio dramatisations, these stories are quite different. They are very short and pithy, often no more than a few pages long, compared to the 30 minute episodes on TV/radio. You can see where the dramatists drew their inspiration from though. The characters I came to know and love are all there, and the humour and humanity of Giovanni Guareschi shines through in his writing.
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