By Cristina Comencini, Marina Harss (translator)
Other Press, $15.95, 256 pages
Marina and her 2-year-old son, Marco, meet Manfred, a local mountaineer, when they rent his upstairs apartment in the Dolomites. Marina and her son are vacationing alone, though this is not just a leisure trip: Marina is struggling with motherhood and needs some time away from the watchful eye of her husband. Alone with Marco day in and day out, Marina’s insecurities and impatience overwhelm her, and Manfred witnesses the tragic outcome. As Manfred’s suspicions of Marina grow, so does his attraction to her. Abandoned by his own mother as a young boy, as well as by his wife, Luna, Manfred is incapable of lowering his defensive, bitter stance to give Marina the support she needs. But when Manfred nearly dies in a mountaineering accident, life changes for both him and Marina in a way neither could have planned.
Both Manfred and Marina’s perspectives drive this narrative, and Comencini deftly handles rapid shifts in point of view that illuminate the misunderstandings, missed opportunities and unspoken desires that dog these two lonely souls. When the Night is a haunting portrait of wives, husbands, mothers — and the lingering effects even small decisions and actions can have throughout a life.
Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell