Cover image for A cloud on sand
A cloud on sand
De Ferrari, Gabriella.
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First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf, 1989.
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Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in pre-WW II Italy and wartime South America, this work of psychological realism tells of the bizarre enchantments touching--and sometimes ruling--human lives. Antonia's mother--the amoral, supremely stylish Dora--lives in an imposing villa built at her request in a seedy section of Artemisia, a small town near Genoa, by a husband who spends most of his time in Argentina. In Artemisia, where Dora grew up poor, she lords it over relatives, neglects Antonia and son Marco, amasses lovers and rare coins, loses servants. One of Dora's conquests, Count Emilio Mora, comes to serve as a surrogate father to the children, installing them in Catholic boarding schools. Both end up in South America--Marco, until he is duped and murdered, running his dead father's Argentinian business, and Antonia as the bride of an Italian living in Yayaku, a Basque-like country north of Chile. Compelled by a tragic sense of fate, De Ferrari's characters are visited by alarming dreams--and in their sleeping and waking hours observe many strange things, from witches to men who melt. The first novelist's impressive control of these uncanny powers in a basically realistic context will suggest comparisons with Marquez, although De Ferrari is in no sense an imitator. 40,000 first printing. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Soon to be a film directed by Martin Scorsese, this first novel is set in Italy and South America in a period ranging from the 1920s until the end of World War II. In memoir form it tells the story of Antonia, a timid girl lacking role models, whose determined development into successful adulthood astounds those who know her. The rich cast of characters includes Dora, the bizarre, tyrannical mother; Arturo, the loving, understanding husband; and Count Moro, the elegant, artistic family friend who is more like family to Antonia than her real family. A child trapped in a psychological wasteland, Antonia breaks free to reorient her life successfully, finally standing on her own two feet. Recommended.-- Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Md. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.