Home > 2010, 21st Century, Caminito Guilia, Gallmeister, Italian Literature, Novel > The Day Will Come by Giulia Caminito – Italia Reading Challenge

The Day Will Come by Giulia Caminito – Italia Reading Challenge

February 8, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

A Day Will Come by Giulia Caminito (2019) French title: Un jour viendra. Translated from the Italian by Laura Brignon.

In A Day Will Come, Giulia Caminito takes us to Serra de’ Conti, a village in the Marche region in Italy. Nicola and Lupo are the two surviving sons of the poor baker of the village, Luigi Ceresa. They have two sisters, Nella, who becomes a nun and Adelaide, who dies in young age. The boys are close in age and Nicola is under Lupo’s protection because he’s too fragile and afraid of everything. Together with a pet wolf, they are a close-knit unit to face the world. Their parents are absentees at best, violent sometimes.

Lupo will do Nicola’s chores to allow him to learn how to read and get an education. Nicola loves to read and write and becomes the erudite of the duo. Lupo is more into action and he finds a good outlet for his energy in the Anarchist groups that spread their ideas in the country. The peasants were mostly sharecroppers, for the convent and for other landowners. This system was very inegalitarian and the peasants were open to Anarchism that promised to erase it.

Their village of Serra de’ Conti has a convent with Clarisse sisters. Their abbess is Sister Clara, a woman who became a nun after she was kidnaped in Sudan, her native country. The convent plays a steady role in the villagers’ lives, with work, shelter, help. And music. Sister Clara plays beautifully and the villagers can hear her play. The boys’ sister, Nella is there, against her will. She got pregnant out of wedlock and her father put her in the convent and took the baby.

Through Nicola and Lupo’s story, Giulia Caminito dives into the history of this corner of Italy and shows how politics and decisions made at national level drizzle and affect people’s lives even in remote villages.

The boys were born in the early 1890s, only twenty years after the independence of Italy, won over the Austrians. It also meant that the young State has to incorporate papal territories in the new country. The fate of the convent in Serra de’Conti reflects this evolution: the church land and properties are taken over. The Anarchist movements were strong, leading to the Red Week in Ancona (CHECk), the nearest city to Serra de’ Conti.

The Great War is another shock and I discovered battles between the Italian and the Austrian troops. I know more about the battles set in France than about the ones abroad. They were just as abominable.

The Great War washed away the Anarchist movements and the brothers’ illusions. The Spanish influenza was another tide over the Great War one. The country landed in the 1920s and Mussolini took over.

I see Nicola and Lupo as a modern and peasant version of Romulus and Remus. One is word and the other is action. They are the people who are the foundation of the new Italy. They are inseparable and they have a wolf pet who protects them and Lupo, whose name means wolf, is Nicola’s protector.

In a note at the end of the book, the author explains that her grand-mother came from this village of Serra de’Conti. The characters of this novel are based on real people. Her great-grand-father, Nicola Ugolini, was one of the Anarchists of the Marche region and Giulia Caminito dug into the archives of the movement, its roots and its actions. The participants really believed they would lead to happy changes for the people. Sister Clara really existed under the name of Zeinab Alif who, in real life, became Sister Maria Giuseppina Benvenuti.

Gallmeister, the publisher, included a note about the historical landmarks that are spread into the novel. It was very useful but I think that this note would be better as a foreword as it contains no spoilers but gives useful pointers to understand the historical references of the book.

Like Betty by Tiffany McDaniel, A Day Will Come is based on the author’s family story. There’s no way to know what’s true and what isn’t and honestly, I don’t care. I enjoyed Caminito’s book for its unusual characters, for the light it sheds on a specific moment in the history of the Marche and for the poetry of her writing.

Translation Tragedy, sadly. This is another contribution to Diana’s Italia Reading Challenge.

  1. February 8, 2022 at 9:01 pm

    Planning to spend March on Italian authors already on my shelves (so you can’t tempt me! 😂)

    Like

    • February 12, 2022 at 7:25 pm

      I’m curious about your list! In which language are you going to read them?

      Like

      • February 12, 2022 at 8:21 pm

        Oh, English, of course, my Italian is still very basic!

        Like

        • February 12, 2022 at 8:24 pm

          Could have been French or Romanian, staying in a translation from a Latin language to another one.

          Like

          • February 12, 2022 at 8:26 pm

            That would have been nice, and yes, indeed, all of the Italian literature I read in the past was translated into Romanian, but that was a long time ago.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. February 8, 2022 at 11:55 pm

    Amazing. This book seems to combine two of my all time favourite themes in books – relationship between two brothers, and a convent! I also love your analysis of brothers as Romulus and Remus.

    Like

  3. February 9, 2022 at 9:29 am

    This sounds wonderful… a translation tragedy indeed…

    Like

    • February 12, 2022 at 7:27 pm

      Yes. Like Borgo Vecchio by Calaciura and The Island of Souls by Pulixi. *sigh*

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vishy
    February 9, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    Wonderful review, Emma! Love the fact that the book is based on real people and real events. Loved the analogy between the main characters and Romulus and Remus. I need to read up on Italian history, especially of the 19th century. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 😊

    Like

    • February 12, 2022 at 7:28 pm

      Thanks, Vishy!
      I enjoyed the historical references, it allowed me to learn something and the writing was great.

      Like

  5. February 13, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    This sounds fascinating, and it’s a subject I know so little about. When we were taught about the Great War in school, the focus was very much on Britain, France and Germany, a little bit about Austria. I wasn’t taught anything about Italy during that time.

    Like

  6. February 21, 2022 at 3:19 am

    Even if it did appear at the beginning as a Foreword, I would shut my eyes and flip those pages quickly: I have been burned by that! Hehe

    Like

    • February 21, 2022 at 11:54 am

      That’s true. I tend to skip them too.

      Like

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