Widow with a Child
By Danielle Maggetti
In the mid-19th-century, in a valley in the Ticino, a woman in her 70s, Anna Maria, is the butt of finger-pointing and name-calling: she’s the “wicked woman”, the “black widow”. She is indeed a widow, unbending and focused only on her grandson, whom she shields from the hatred of the villagers. But her life is soon changed by the arrival in the village of don Tommaso Barbisio, a sophisticated but disgraced priest from Piedmont. The old lady is taken on as his housekeeper and she sees in this a glimmer of hope for a solution for her grandson. Don Tommaso’s curiosity is aroused by the way the widow is ostracised by the village and eventually gets her to tell him her story. It’s a tale of theft, smuggling and murder, which gradually lifts the veil on her past, a past that goes back several generations and implicates numerous families in the village. It brings to light the relentlessness of fate and the unremitting nature of ancestral hatred.
If don Tommaso is a fictional character, Anna Maria really existed, along with her husband, whose crimes were the origin of a legend that has rung down across the generations. Widow and Child is a story that lies somewhere between historical narrative and romantic invention, told amid the buzz and chatter of several languages; on stage are two enigmatic but intensely human people, whose lives will be defined by the very fact of their meeting.
Praise for the novel
“This story could take place anywhere and in any age. It’s universal: a narrow-minded peasantry, fighting for survival on an impoverished land; the people they bond with and those they reject – and the robberies they commit along the way.” VICEVERSA
“Daniel Maggetti’s prose is broad and swift; he deploys sinuous sentences across long paragraphs, perfectly sculpted blocks of words whose rhythm and clarity evoke a mountain stream, as if he had stolen the very voice of the valley.” LE COURRIER
Title: La Veuve à l’enfant
Publisher: Zoé, Carouge
Publication Date: August 2015
Translation Rights: Laure Pécher, Agency Astier-Pécher, firstname.lastname@example.org