Garden of Monsters
A rural epic about warring families in modern Italy and an intimate bildungsroman of the artist’s journey
Set in the Maremma region of Southern Tuscany, this novel tells the story of two families against the backdrop of a rapidly transforming country. The Biagini are local ranchers, while the wealthy Sanfilippi belong to Rome’s upper middle-class. When Sauro, an ambitious rancher, and Filippo, a hedonistic politician, become business partners, the stories of their families become irrevocably intertwined. As an influx of new money pours into the town, political allegiances, family loyalties, moral codes, and sexual identities all begin to shift.
Sauro and Filippo, their wives Miriam and Giulia, and their sons, are the prototypes of the new Italy, ostensibly emancipated from traditional mores, but at the same time, insecure and blinkered. Fifteen-year-old Annamaria, fragile and anxious, struggles to find her place among them. Luckily, a parallel world is taking shape nearby: the Tarot Garden, the monumental sculpture garden created by the French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle. It is in this magical place, through her conversations with the artist, that Annamaria will slowly find a sense of identity and belonging.
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