Originally released in 1990, Lives of the Saints is Canadian author Nino Ricci’s first novel in the Vittorio Innocente trilogy and is published in over a dozen countries (it is published as The Book of Saints in the U.S.).
Ricci successfully evokes typical childhood growing pains, adding a layer of angst in a story rife with secrets and subtle streams of anger.
Vittorio Innocente’s father left their rural town in the Italian Apennines for Canada when Vittorio was barely three years old, leaving the child and his mother, Cristina, to care for a crippled grandfather and a meager farm. Vittorio, now almost seven, faces confusion and moral ambiguity as rumors surrounding his mother circulate among the townspeople.
We are introduced to the forces of good and evil that weave through Valle del Sole when Cristina is bitten by a snake, considered at once a symbol of good and an agent of the evil eye. The saying in the village went, ‘Do’l’orgoglio sta, la serpe se neva’—where pride is the snake goes. We are then led through Vittorio’s coming of age in an adult world filled with scandal, mystery, and hypocrisy.
Nino Ricci’s powerful prose sweeps the reader into his unsentimental tale of isolation, shame, rebellion, and innocence lost.