Lives of the Saints

Nino Ricci

Lives of the Saints

When young Vittorio Innocente's mother, Cristina, is bitten by a snake in the family stable, no one sees the blue-eyed stranger leaving except for Vittorio. He struggles to keep his mother's secret but secrets in a small village are hard to keep, and while Cristina's belly gradually grows under her loose dresses, they find themselves shunned by their superstitious neighbours

Lives of the Saints won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the Books in Canada First Novel Award in 1990.


If this story has a beginning, a moment at which a single gesture broke the surface of events like a stone thrown into the sea, the ripples cresting away endlessly, then that beginning occurred on a hot July day in the year 1960, in the village of Valle del Sole, when my mother was bitten by a snake.

Valle del sole - which was not in a valley at all, but perched on the north face of Colle di Papa about three thousand feet above the valley floor - had no culinary specialities, no holy sites, no ancient ruins; forgotten and unsung, it was one of a hundred villages just like it flung across the Italian Apennines like scattered stones.

From Lives of the Saints by Nino Ricci ©2008. Published by Cormorant Books.

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