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A Personal Favourite
on 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.