Betty's Reviews > Italian Shoes

Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell
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's review
Sep 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: arlington-library
Read in September, 2011

Not a mystery, Mankell fans! A very good, yet profoundly sad, novel about a man who has isolated himself against the world as much as possible over the past 12 years. The sudden, unexpected appearance of an old lover--the main love of his life, in fact--sets the narrator on a path that forces him to confront his past and himself. Often painful to read--the mistakes, the aversions, the lies, and betrayals common to every life--"Italian Shoes" nonetheless makes the case that it's never too late (the narrator is 66 years old) to atone for one's errors--however embarrassing and discomforting that may be. Only one shocking, unexpected act about 50 or 60 pages before the novel's end felt wrong, felt like a puzzling misstep on Mankell's part. But apart from that, for years Mankell's mysteries have transcended the genre; with "Italian Shoes" he goes headlong into "straight" fiction, albeit with the same fascination in characters troubled and intimidated by intimacy, yet in deep need of connection with others.
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