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Soul of the Border

(Trilogia della Patria #1)

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  130 ratings  ·  27 reviews
The first novel in a trilogy set on the border between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the late 19th century. A young woman seeks the truth behind her father's disappearance.

Every year, Augusto De Boer undertakes a treacherous journey through the Italian Alps, smuggling his family's tobacco crop across the border to Austria. With conditions getting harsher, he
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 4th 2018 by Pushkin Press (first published 2017)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
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 ·  130 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Umut Reviews
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites-2018
4.5 stars!
To see my full review, please visit my blog:
I loved this book for many reasons, but most importantly because it moved so many emotions in me. Its very precise and powerful writing doesn’t linger on with too many pages. It strikes you right at the core, and I think this is what so many authors forgot today: Less is More.
I read good & bad people, revenge & salvation, strength & fear, family & friendship, poverty and survival,
Contrabbandieri, foreste impervie e montagne da valicare: Matteo Righetto apre una finestra su aspetti che non conoscevo e cioè la coltivazione del tabacco in Veneto (sicuramente, in qualche momento della mia vita scolastica, questa informazione sarà transitata attraverso le mie orecchie ma non ha lasciato alcuna traccia!). Ho trovato molto interessante la descrizione della difficile vita dei contadini che, agli albori dell’unità d’Italia, lo coltivavano per conto dello Stato così come gli ...more
Liz Barnsley
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Soul Of The Border is a wonderfully complex and beautifully written novel, encompassing the strength of humanity and the harsh, unforgiving beauty of our natural world.
This story strips back human need to it’s very basic levels through the lives and struggles of the De Boer family. Augusto journeys across the border, a difficult and dangerous journey, nevertheless it is required for the very survival of his family. Daughter Jole accompanies him, learning and absorbing, but when one day her
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Che cos’è un confine? Forse nient’altro che la linea immaginaria che separa popoli e lingue, ma non solo: anche una frontiera materica, fatta di boschi e cime, di torrenti e ghiaioni.
E ancora: “le vere frontiere sono quelle tra prepotenti e poveri cristi, tra chi si sollazza di cibo e potere e chi invece patisce la fame e deve spaccarsi la schiena per un pugno di polenta”. Così diceva Augusto, il padre della giovane Jole, la quale ne segue le orme, sfidando la legge e cercando una risposta.
Martina Sartor
Il racconto delle montagne, delle nostre montagne. Ma stavolta le montagne sono davvero le nostre: Matteo Righetto ha ambientato questa storia tutt'attorno a noi. Il viaggio di Jole parte dall'Altopiano di Asiago, giusto sopra di noi; vede Tezze dove gli austriaci in quella fine d'ottocento stanno costruendo la ferrovia, quella ferrovia che passa proprio sotto casa; il viaggio continua passando per Arsiè, il mio paese e continuando in tutti i luoghi a noi noti.
Ma è soprattutto un racconto vero,
Tom Mooney
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Oh dear. I really tried to like this. It sounds like it should be right up my street.

But, ultimately, it just isn't very good. Some parts are fine but whole swaths of it are really quite dreadful. Some of the attempts at deep, meaningful, enigmatic passages sound more like bad high school poetry. The characters are one-dimensional and thinly drawn.

And the amount of wild coincidences just becomes a bit ridiculous by the end - three times in about 20 pages someone important just happens to
Louise Fligman
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“A beautiful novel that encapsulates nature at its toughest and humanity at its strongest”

The tail end of the 19th century. The Vento region of Northern Italy. This is when and where the de Boer family are living, growing tobacco and working on the mountainous terraces. Life is hard, and every year the father of the family, Augusto, undertakes a perilous journey through the Italian Alps to smuggle tobacco across the border into Austria. He decides to take his daughter Jole with him, teaching her
Mar 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Zarys fabuły był obiecujący. Jednak miałam problem z tą książką, bo - była miejscami afektowana, była miejscami niewiarygodna (szczególnie relacje międzyludzkie), była nudna. Generalnie zakończenie całej przygody było dość przewidywalne.
Sama podróż, perypetie młodej kobiety, wydawały mi się w dziwny sposób podobne do powieści Kazuo Ishiguro Buried Giant, gdzie wydawało się że wszystko ma drugie dno. Tu też miałam poczucie, że autor chce aby książka była symboliczna, sięgała znaczeniem ponad to,
Jim Sullivan

I liked this book a lot. It has a simple plot and is beautifully written.

A desperately poor farming family in 19th century struggle to survive growing tobacco. Whilst their product is of premium quality, the farmers sell at the mercy of their buyers and customs who take all but a pittance of its worth. The family turns to smuggling to survive.

The story covers the journey across the Italian/Austrian border to trade the smuggled produce.

As with many translated books the language is so
Sharah McConville
Soul of the Border is a story about hardship, poverty and revenge. Set during the 1890's in the Italian mountains near the Austrian border, this story is about Jole and her father, who become smugglers in order to support their family. Matteo Righetto's book has been translated in to English by Howard Curtis. Thanks to Text Publishing for my paperback copy. A really enjoyable read.
Bonnye Reed
Soul of the Border is an excellent historical novel, set on the isolated, impossible-to-reach and ever moving border between Austria and Italy. Nevada is a small, dying village with only one thing going for it - the Brenta Valley, in tiers, cut into the side of Mount Grappa, produced excellent, much sought after Nostrano tobacco. It took the long intense labor of the whole De Boers family, and the tobacco company who provided the counted seeds monitored the crops at every stage and picked up the ...more
Jackie Law
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Soul of the Border, by Matteo Righetto (translated by Howard Curtis), is set in the remote and diminished village of Nevada near the alpine border between Italy and Austria. Here the De Boer family have lived for generations, eking out a living growing tobacco on the steep valley terraces. By the end of the nineteenth century the border has been moved, the land changing from Austrian to Italian rule. The high quality tobacco grown in the area is strictly monitored and purchased by the ...more
Arturo Bandini
Augusto De Boer è il padre di una famiglia povera, coltivano tabacco pregiato ma sottopagato dallo stato, in un remoto angolo della Val Brenta, siamo alla fine del 1800, la sopravvivenza è una missione quotidiana. Non si spreca nulla e si usa ogni regalo che la natura dona. Ad un certo punto, quando la sofferenza è estrema e non c'è più possibilita di sopravvivere, Augusto decide di diventare contrabbandiere e valicare il confine con l'Austria per dare una speranza di vita decente alla propria ...more
Barbi  - Books Hunters Blog
Mi piace leggere storie di anime. Poco importa di chi sia, a chi appartenga. Sempre anima è. In questo caso specifico l'anima è quella di una frontiera, di un confine, di una cosa di per sé astratta che invece l'uomo pretende di definire con certezza assoluta, quando poi all'universo, di questa divione, non potrebbe interessare di meno.
Questa è la mia terra, quella è la tua. Si toccano lungo una linea che io, uomo, ho tracciato, ma non possono e non devono avere lo stesso padrone, al di qua e
Franca Pelaccia
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Soul of the Border is set in the remote village of Nevada, Italy near the Austrian border during the late nineteenth century. Augusto De Boer grows high-quality tobacco on the steep valley terraces of the Alps as his ancestors before him, but his crop is monitored by the Royal Tobacco Company that underpays Augusto. In order to survive and provide for his family, Augusto puts tobacco aside and smuggles it into Austria through the perilous Alps to avoid customs officer who shot on sight. In ...more
Paul Pessolano
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Soul of the Border” by Matteo Righetto, published by Atria Books.

Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date – June 11, 2019.

Augusto De Boer lives in the Italian Alps with his family. He is a poor tobacco farmer who is at the mercy of whichever regime is in power. He finds his only hope of survival is to sell some of his product in Austria. This means he has to cross the Alps and elude the Italian and Austrian Border Guards.

He decides that it is time for his oldest daughter of fifteen, Jole,
Andy Weston
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a refreshing piece of old-fashioned story-telling set in the shadow of Mount Pavione in the southern tip of the Italian Dolomites in 1896. It concerns a poor family of tobacco farmers who supplement their meagre income by smuggling some of the crop across a precarious mountainous border crossing to Austria.
There is a vivid image created by Righetto’s descriptions of the landscape in almost every step of the journey taken by Augusto and his young daughter Jole. It is an appealing mix of
David V.
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 5-19-19. Finished 5-21-19. A simple story told simply about an Italian family in the late 1890's who grow tobacco on their mountainside farm. It barely gets them out of poverty so they then smuggle it over mountains to Austria, exchange it for copper and silver from the mines there, and then use that to purchase food and other necessities. One year the father doesn't return and his teen-aged daughter continues the smuggling and searches for her ...more
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una scrittura elegante, scorrevole, limpida. Non è necessario usare paroloni ricercati tra le righe più recondite del dizionario per essere grandi scrittori.
Una trama che porta il lettore in un viaggio tra gli affascinanti, e a volte insidiosi, boschi di frontiera attraverso l'avventura di Jole, ragazza-donna da conoscere.
Primo capitolo di una trilogia che si annuncia ricca di avventure. Coinvolgente come le altre opere di Matteo Righetto.
Steve Streeter
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This 1890’s tale set on the Italian/Austrian border could be described as a ‘slow burner’ building up to a dramatic final quarter ... but it’s the description of the location , life in a mountain wilderness that captured my imagination
I’ll be intrigued to see where the second book moves onwards ...
incipit mania
Dec 28, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: righetto-m
Ci sono paesi che sanno di sventura [...]
L'anima della frontiera Incipitmania
Bea Lathrop
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting story & a quick read.
Starr Waddell
Jan 06, 2020 marked it as dnf1
This seems fine, but it's not grabbing me. I'm DNF'ing. :(
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's 'The Crossing'. But where The Crossing shows without judgement, this book does a lot more telling of what to think/feel.
Raghu Parthasarathy
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
This reads like it was written by a middle-school student, overflowing with clichés, utterly two-dimensional characters, and transparent but ridiculous aspirations to be deep. I picked it up at random from the library new book shelf – the cover is beautiful. The text on the back claims it’s an international sensation, which I can’t understand, but perhaps it’s better in Italian (or other languages). The story involves a poor family growing tobacco in the Italian Alps in the late 1800s, and ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jole and her father must smuggle tobacco across the border between Italy and Austria in order to put enough food on the table. On one of these trips, her father goes missing, and Jole must make the next trip alone. The author does a great job evoking the setting of late 19th century Italy in a small village in the Dolomite mountains.
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intrygujące połączenie opowiastki inicjacyjnej i powieści przygodowej z Matką Naturą w tle. Dla każdego, kto lubi niespieszną narrację i nieoczywistą fabułę.

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Apr 09, 2018
Rupert McNally
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Sandro Boscaro
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Oct 16, 2017
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Matteo Righetto è nato nel 1972 a Padova, dove insegna Lettere. Ha pubblicato Savana Padana (TEA, 2012), La pelle dell'orso (Guanda, 2013), da cui è stato tratto un film con Marco Paolini per la regia di Marco Segato, Apri gli occhi (TEA, 2016, vincitore del Premio della Montagna Cortina d'Ampezzo) e Dove porta la neve (TEA, 2017). Scrive articoli di cultura per Il Foglio. I suoi libri sono stati ...more

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