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The places, events and people are all real. I have invented nothing.' Natalia Ginzburg wrote her masterful, Strega Prize winning novel Family Lexicon while living in London in the 1960s. Homesick for her big, noisy Italian family, she summoned them in this novel, which is a celebration of the routines and rituals, in-jokes and insults and, above all, the repeated sayings that make up every family.
The father, Giuseppe Levi, is a Jewish scientist, consumed by his work and a mania for hiking. Impatient and intractable, he is constantly at odds with his impressionable and wistful wife Lidia - yet he cannot be without her. Together they preside over their five children in a house filled with argument and activity, books and politics, visitors, friends and famous faces.
But as their children grow up against the backdrop of Mussolini's Italy, the Levi household must become not only a home - but a stronghold against fascism. Intimate, enchanting and comedic, Family Lexicon is an unforgettable novel about memory, language, and the lasting power that family holds over all of us. 'It is perhaps best to say straight off that the book is a masterpiece.' New Yorker 'A small, entrancing classic.' Hermione Lee