'I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's a brilliant portrait of Agata, a Sicilian woman whose compulsion to speak aloud what should remain unsaid breaks the unspoken rules of her society. Although the story is set in mid twentieth-century Sicily and concerns the oppressive interpenetration of the Mafia into all aspects of everyday life, it is not really a gangster thriller. It is subtler than that; we hardly see the Mafia in action, we see the shadow it casts, and what that fear of stepping out of line does to people. The theme is universal enough to show how life has to be lived under any regime demanding loyalty and secrecy - whether this be a totalitarian regime, a company which expects its employees to keep silent about its misdemeanours, or a marriage. The novel shows how once we attempt neutrality and lie low, we shrink into complicity. This is an astonishingly economical novel which, at 94 pages, can be read in one sitting but packs a real punch. Only after you have reached the end do you fully realise the implications of what you have been reading. Alessandra Lavagnino is almost unknown in this country although she has won prizes for her writing. This book was written in 1974 but has taken thirty five years to appear in English, thanks to Adam Elgar's timely discovery of the book and his wonderfully poetic translation. I hope there is more to come - Lavagnino deserves to be better known.' Amazon.co.uk review