Julie Christine's Reviews > The Other Language

The Other Language by Francesca Marciano
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The language of love. The language of loss. The languages of betrayal, lust, disappointment, boredom, hope. Francesca Marciano speaks each with gorgeous fluidity and astonishing fluency. I had never heard of Marciano before the short story collection The Other Language was recommended to me. Now I am poised to seek out all of her works.

As a reader and writer for whom place is nearly as important as character, I was delighted to find that Marciano speaks my language. From her native Rome, to a haute couture boutique in Venice, and an old bakery turned House Beautiful in Puglia, to post-colonial Kenya, a remote village in Greece, central India, or New York City, Marciano shows us how place defines character, and how travel strips us of our inhibitions and sometimes, our conscience.

Marciano’s characters are on the cusp of change, brought about by crisis: death in the collection’s eponymous story and The Club; divorce in The Presence of Men; the approach of middle age—a theme that permeates several of the stories; and the gradual fizzling out of passion between lovers and within marriages.

Highlights include Emma’s coming of age after her mother’s death and her mistaken first love during a summer in Greece in The Other Language; Chanel, a story based on the simple premise of the right dress at the wrong time, but so full of depth and tenderness: it exemplifies the sense of loss felt by women as we reach middle age and examine the fading face in the mirror and our underwhelming résumé; The Club, a subtle treatise on interracial, intercultural marriage in Kenya; An Indian Soirée, where we witness how a dream and a dance dissolve a marriage; and Roman Romance, in which we meet the woman who inspired a rock star’s most popular song, twenty years after their affair.

The stories are long enough that we forget ourselves; our eyes and ears and thoughts become those of the women that Marciano so deftly portrays. But the short story demands a careful selection of detail and this author can turn the world on a phrase.

Francesca Marciano captures the small moments that, in retrospect, are the turning points of our lives.
They woke up early in the morning when the light was still soft, the water glassy and clear and one could make out every pebble on the bottom. ... Each one of them secretly believed this might be the end of the tears, and they marked that beach as the place where pain had ended and a new life could begin.

Beautiful. Revelatory. Heartbreaking.
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Reading Progress

May 9, 2014 – Shelved
May 9, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
August 15, 2014 – Started Reading
August 15, 2014 – Shelved as: shorts
August 16, 2014 –
page 80
26.32% "Excellent. So very glad this came my way."
August 17, 2014 –
page 140
46.05% "Exquisitely-crafted short stories are such an inspiration. It was on my writing list this week to begin a new story and now I've found my mojo. Grazie Francesca!"
August 18, 2014 – Shelved as: africa-theme-setting
August 18, 2014 – Shelved as: italy-theme-setting
August 18, 2014 – Shelved as: read-2014
August 18, 2014 – Shelved as: best-of-2014
August 18, 2014 – Shelved as: south-asia-theme-setting
August 18, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Julie Christine I'll return with a review, but what a wonderful collection!

Julie Christine Louisa wrote: "Wonderful review Julie! I have to read this soon, it sounds right up my alley. By the way, if you ever do write a book, please let me know, and I will buy it in a heartbeat."

Louisa, I think you will love this! You are so sweet. I'm querying my first novel to literary agents this fall, so it's my greatest hope that someday, someday, I will have a novel to sell!!

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