Marina is a young mother from the city, who has brought her young, difficult son to the mountains for a month long vacation. Marina rents an apartment from Manfred, a hard, brusque mountain guide. Marina is beyond frustrated with her son’s temperament and cannot cope on her own. One night she does the unthinkable. Manfred alone saves her and her son. He does not know exactly what happened, but saw enough and distrusts her to the point of forcing her to admit her wrongdoing. A fight for power and control in this unlikely relationship turns to frustrated attraction, and sets them both ill at ease. The novel is a remarkable look at the strong connection between our two strongest emotions – love and hate.
This is not a lovely romantic story filled with flowing prose and poetry. Everything about this tale is a struggle. It is hard and stubborn like the mountaintop that serves as its setting. Comencini has crafted two characters that are both detestable and deserving of our compassion. Marina is depressed, weak, and completely controlled by her two year old. She is motivated in everything by fear, and yet believes that those who surround her are afraid of her. Manfred distrusts and basically hates all women; a sad consequence of being left by his mother when he was a child and more recently by his wife, who also took their children. But Manfred is able to bring out a powerful strength in Marina. He is not afraid of her; she will not be intimidated by him. The narration switches back and forth between their point of views in a way that is unsettling and yet gives them both power and vulnerability.
This really is an incredible psychological examination of the duality of emotion. I found it thought provoking, jarring and intimate. The tug of war between these two flawed characters and their powerful emotions really got to me. They will stay with me too – I can already see myself searching for Manfred or Marina in characters of book I have yet to read.
The publisher, Other Press, has generously offered a finished copy of this new novel to one of my US readers! Please one entry per person, and valid US addresses only (no PO boxes). The giveaway starts right now, and will end at midnight EST on April 30th, 2012. To enter, please fill out this FORM. Thank you and good luck!
When the Night
by Cristina Comencini
Other Press, 2012
Source: Publisher for honest review
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