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Reeds in the Wind
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2002
If you're in for a good book, don't miss this one. It took me only two days to read it but it feels as if I had been for a few months in 19th century Sardinia.
Let the author make you enjoy torrid afternoons and magic nights in a world so distant from today's but where the same human values on which today's western society is based are there fully exposed for us to see.
Top marks, it'll be difficult for me to get on and enjoy reading another book right away.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2015
I didn't get this book at first, but after thinking about it I have come up with a theory.

Sometimes I was a little bored reading because I didn't really identify with any of the characters. Even though their lives were undergoing dramas, somehow their pain and suffering didn't move me much.

After considering, I've decided that the author doesn't care much for her characters either. I read a review by a man fluent in Italian who had read the original novel. He comments that the title is a misrepresentation of the author's intended image. The Italian work uses the word cane - not reed. A reed is soft and flexible and bends softly when the wind blows. The characters in this book were more like canes, stiff, inflexible and I imagine they would stand rigidly against the wind rather than bending with it.

The Pintor family's financial and social situation had changed. Rather than changing their lives to make the most of their new circumstances, the sisters become shut in spinsters as they cling stubbornly to their previous status.

Efix also clings stubbornly to his servant title. I thought he would be portrayed as selfless, but how selfless is one when they are motivated by guilt? When people at the festivals threw coins that hit him in the chest Deledda describes his enjoying "the delight of matyrdom."

I could relate to Deladda's impressions of the natural world. The closest thing I have felt to religion has been sitting in the sun, feeling my fingers in the dirt in nature, feeling the thrum of life all around me. My brain tells me it was just probably my heart beat in my ears and perhaps I was overheated, but emotionally I felt that the rhythm was from the earth, a life force that all living creatures must share.

This passage from page 2 seemed to sum up my experience:

"The moon rose before him, and evening voices told him the day had ended: a cuckoo's rhythmical cry, the early crickets' chirping, a bird calling; the reeds sighing and the ever more distinct voice of the river; but most of all a breathing, mysterious panting that seemed to come from the earth itself."

I believe that Deledda paints her characters as petty, because she feels a greater connection to nature than to humans. I am left with the impression that her characters are rodents scurrying to hoard a harvest in the fall; tiny creatures preocupied with their own dramas while the earth continues to turn, the stars continue to shine, unmoved.

This passage from page 155 supports my theory:

"All the freshness of the evening, all the harmony of the serene distance, and the stars smiling at the flowers and the flowers smiling at the stars, and the proud joy of handsome young shepherds, and the repressed passion of women in red bodices, and all the melancholy of the poor who live waiting for leftovers from the tables of the rich, and the distant sorrows and hopes, and the past, the lost country, love, sin, remorse, prayer, the hymn of the pilgrim who travels far not knowing where he'll spend the night, but feels he is guided by God, and the green solitude of the little farm down there, the odor of euphorbia, Grixenda's laughter and tears, Noemi's laughter and tears, Efix's laughter and tears, the whole world's laughter and tears, trembled and vibrated in the notes of the nightingale above in the solitary tree that seemed higher than the mountains, with its top touching the sky and the tip of the highest leaf stuck in a star."

It seems to me she is reminding us that we all laugh, we all cry, but it really doesn't matter to the nightingale. We are small beings all connected to the great big web of life on earth. Reminiscent of how looking down from a mountain top, or out into the expanse of the ocean makes you feel small and insignificant in a comforting way.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2000
It seems paradoxical that Grazia Deledda could write such sexy novels, with characters driven by desire. She was born and raised in retro Sardinia, to become a faithful and devoted wife and mother. Short, plump, the antithesis of sexy, she wrote many volumes of short stories and novels with full-blooded themes, not to mention full-bodied. But subtly so. Her characters are very Sardinian-reticent in the expression of their desires that burn under the surface of the dialogue and action.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2009
FOr readers interested in history of common people in Sardinia. A masterpiece. It opens a window on a forgotten human universe. Well deserved Nobel prize. Product received in excellent condition.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2001
Reeds in the Wind is a resounding success, for it is a literary work of art that is suffused with Sardinian folk culture, unwavering faith in Catholicism and vivid lore of the "dark beings who populate the Sardinian night..." Grazia Deledda's novel, set in the harsh, homely, bromidic Sardinian Galte (actually Galtelli) of Baronia, describes the arid, solitary landscape, where the sun continuously emits a slanting, hot coppery ray of light upon the reddened earth, and the melancholy panorama is adorned only by dilapidated huts and a cemetery abounding with dust and bones; hence, the attention of the reader is immediately focused not on the torpidity of the environment, but rather, on the inhabitants of it: Effix, Giacinto, Grixenda, Don Predu, Pottoi, Zuannantoni, Milese, Kallina and the three spinster sisters: Ruth, Ester and Noemi Pintor. The electric liveliness, the pulse, that normally spreads up and out in cosmopolitan cities is quite palpable. The lust and vibrancy of municipal life can be oozed out at the ends of a clenched fist, for the urbanity is the life blood that keeps people sane, but that is not the case in this territory, because it is the antipode of urbane. It is a vacuous hole that takes more than it gives, and tradition is the cudgel that keeps the residents at bay, preventing most of them from ever leaving and striving for growth, love and happiness. It is a land where the dead are not simply dominant, they are the rulers: P.3: "Effix could hear the sound that the panas-women who died in childbirth-made while washing their clothes down by the river, beating them with a dead man's shin bone, and he believed he saw the ammattadore (the elf with seven caps where he hid his treasure) jumping about under the almond woods, followed by vampires with steel tails. It was the elf that caused the branches and rocks to glitter under the moon. And along with the evil spirits were spirits of unbaptized babies-white spirits that flew through the air changing themselves into silvery clouds behind the moon. And dwarfs and janas-the little faries who stay in their small rock houses during the day weaving gold cloth on their golden looms-where dancing in the large phillyrea bushes, while giants looked out from the rocks on the moonstruck mountains, holding the bridles of enormous horses that only they can mount, squinting to see if down there within the expanse of evil euphorbia a dragon was lurking. Or if the legendary cananea, living from the time of Christ, was slithering around on the sandy marshland." A fourth Pintor sister-Donna Lia-does escape the drudgery of mediocrity, marrying and having a child later named Giacinto who later visits his aunts. But to them, that is anything but pleasing: P.19: "...it seems like you aren't happy about Don Giacinto." "Do I have to sing? He's not the Messiah!" That unpleasant tone swims across the bulk of the novel; it is a tone of harsh indifference. Donna Lia committed the ultimate sin by leaving the Pintor House; thus, her whole being becomes a sin and so too does her offspring, despite Giacinto's later desires to rectify past wrongs; he becomes an omen-bad luck. In life, in order for there to be a sense of unity and forgivness, somebody has to make the first move: P.79: "...If children can love one another, why must we old people hate each other? The remedy is in us." But that is easier said than done. Traditionalism is strongly adhered to, and if faith can not heal the wanton needs and frivolity of those who feel they must escape because of the throttling suffocation that they are enduring, then the battle of good and evil becomes bigger and bigger: P.154: "Yes, once there was a king who had his people worship trees and animals, and even fire. God was offended and made the king's servants turn so bad they plotted to kill their master. And so they did. Yes, he made them worship a golden God. That is why there is so much love for money in the world, and even relatives kill relatives for money." But Effix, who is the servant to the Pintor women, is not a servant in the traditional sense; he is a servant of God, a human angel who tries to heal old wounds, mistrust, suffering. His varied tasks in this novel are not easy ones, but he rises to the complexities of human nature and later ascends to the glory of God. The characters in Reeds in the Wind truly embody human frailties and fatalism in, oddly, a lyrical but brusque manner. Suffering is human nature, and so, aren't we all Reeds in the Wind, pushed down by evil only to rise again?
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 13, 2003
This is the 5th book of Grazia Deladda that I have read and I don't believe that it lives up to her better works. The best book of hers that I read is "After the Divorce". That book made me want to read more and it has been hard to track down other works by her. Since discovering the wonders of modern technology, I have been able to order other of her works. Some like "The Mother and the Priest" gave me a message to ponder while others gave me more of an appreciation of life in Sardinia 75 years ago (which is more like life 175 years ago in other European locales). That flavor of life in her native island is always worth the price of admission to her books and "Reeds in the Wind" is no exception.
In this novella (all of her books are short) we see the story of a family of aging sisters who are so down on their luck that their nobility is in name only. We start the story by meeting the sister's servant, Efix. As the tale unfolds we see that he is the person who runs the operation. He does all the work, makes most of the arrangements, and smoothes many a feather. Well, things happen, people come and go, and we end up with an ending that lets us appreciate how an poor, unpaid servant saves the day for his masters (mistresses?). Along the way we again view a society and its' customs that would be otherwise unknown to us. It is poignant at the end when the sisters take care of Efix after he is no longer able to care for himself. The story of the servant managing the affairs of the sisters and the sisters caring for the servant gives a nice twist to a society that was obviously not used to such role reversals.
If it were possible, I would rate this book 3 1/2 by the 5 star grading system. That's not to say that this isn't a good book. Rather it's to say that I know that the author has done better.
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on December 21, 2012
I loved the Italian version, but wanted to be certain that I had gleaned all of the plotline and the symbolic references, so bought the English version. It was very helpful, and I am happy to say that I probably did not in actuality need it. The translation was very close to the original and helpful particularly for some very complex grammatical structures that I had a little difficulty with in the Italian versiion.
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on April 12, 2015
It could drag at times.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
The author was the second woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature. While the descriptions of her native Sardinia are wonderful, and probably even more wonderful in Italian, the story itself was somewhat simplistic.
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