“On my thirty-fifth birthday, Mrs. A abruptly gave up the determination that in my eyes characterized her more than any other quality and, already laid out in a bed that by then seemed too big for her body, finally abandoned the world we all know.”
By Paolo Giordano
Translator Anne Milano Appel
Nora and her husband, a young couple living in Italy, hire an older woman to help Nora through her difficult pregnancy. Once Nora delivers Emanuele, Mrs. A remains with the family to help care for the baby.
Through the series of vignettes Mrs. A is shown as much more than a nanny. She helps the couple as they adjust to parenthood and she is almost like a grandma to little Emanuele. Just like a family member, sometimes she has strong opinions and sometimes it’s not all smooth sailing. When Mrs. A is diagnosed with cancer, the couple is shaken. They realize, even if they don’t quite voice it, how much of a profound presence Mrs. A is in their lives.
When Mrs. A dies, and I’m not spoiling anything as you know this at the start of the novel, the couple is forced to look at their own interactions and see what is missing or if they can still change the direction of their lives.
I found this to be a powerful novel that manages to capture so much about life and loss. It isn’t sentimental yet it did leave me with a very bittersweet feeling long after I turned the last page. Highly recommend it.
Source: Library copy