“Powerful.” —The New Yorker
“Brilliant.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Forceful, clear and morally engaged.” —The Washington Post
“Subversive.” —The New York Times Book Review
“An exquisite, tormented howl.” —The Financial Times
“Quick, propulsive, and addictive.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“Gripping.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A remarkable story.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“Wrenching, sardonic.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“As relevant today as it was in postwar Italy.” —Shelf Awareness(starred review)
“In her diary de Céspedes confides, “I will never be a great writer.” Here I take her to task for not knowing something about herself—for she was a great writer, a subversive writer, a writer censored by fascists, a writer who refused to take part in literary prizes, a writer ahead of her time. In my view, she is one of Italy’s most cosmopolitan, incendiary, insightful, and overlooked.” —Jhumpa Lahiri
With a foreword by Jhumpa Lahiri, Forbidden Notebook is a classic domestic novel by the Italian-Cuban feminist writer Alba de Céspedes, whose work inspired contemporary writers like Elena Ferrante.
In this modern translation by acclaimed Elena Ferrante translator Ann Goldstein, Forbidden Notebook centers the inner life of a dissatisfied housewife living in postwar Rome.
Valeria Cossati never suspected how unhappy she had become with the shabby gentility of her bourgeois life—until she begins to jot down her thoughts and feelings in a little black book she keeps hidden in a closet. This new secret activity leads her to scrutinize herself and her life more closely, and she soon realizes that her individuality is being stifled by her devotion and sense of duty toward her husband, daughter, and son. As the conflicts between parents and children, husband and wife, and friends and lovers intensify, what goes on behind the Cossatis’ facade of middle-class respectability gradually comes to light, tearing the family’s fragile fabric apart.