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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Linda Ferri

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To purchase Enchantments

Title: Enchantments
Author: Linda Ferri
Genre: Novel
Written: 1997 (Eng. 2005)
Length: 130 pages
Original in: Italian
Availability: Enchantments - US
Enchantments - UK
Enchantments - Canada
Enchantements - France
  • Italian title: Incantesimi
  • Translated by "John Casey with Maria Sanminiatelli"

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Our Assessment:

B+ : fine scenes from and memories of childhood, but doesn't add up to quite enough

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The LA Times . 27/3/2005 Susan Salter Reynolds
The NY Sun . 29/11/2006 Benjamin Lytal
The NY Times Book Rev. . 20/3/2005 Minna Proctor
Salon A 23/2/2005 Priya Jain
The Washington Post . 27/3/2005 Renee Bergland

  Review Consensus:

  Charmed and impressed

  From the Reviews:
  • "Ms. Ferri's unnamed narrator is not so sure of where she stands with theadults. (...) (H)er epiphanies surface, convincingly, from a child's reeling, excitable mind." - Benjamin Lytal, The New York Sun

  • "It must be evidence of artful writing that a novel told from a child's point of view about a privileged upbringing in Paris and Tuscany (...) can be so genuinely, even nakedly, touching." - Minna Proctor, The New York Times Book Review

  • "At a mere 131 pages, it's hard to even think of it as a novel. But the story it contains is just potent enough to feel huge and strong, and immensely satisfying. (....) It is a hard thing to make a novel that is so small and fleeting an experience that will last beyond its pages, and Ferri has accomplished it admirably." - Priya Jain, Salon

  • "In simple sentences that strive for a childlike effect, Ferri describes a cosmopolitan and somewhat magical childhood, a state of pleasant, mild cultural alienation (.....) Quietly elegiac" - Renee Bergland, The Washington Post

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Enchantments offers scenes from a childhood in twenty-five very short chapters, recounted in the first person. Ferri presents a variety of episodes, relationships, friendships, and encounters. The sketches are general, though often focussing in on a particular telling detail. Ferri glides over time, and then allows particular bits to come into sharp focus, a technique she uses very effectively.
       The life described is one of considerable comfort and privilege: growing up in France and Italy, occasional trips to America, horses and ballet-school -- a fairly enchanted life, indeed. But the focus is on the relationships: the girl with her sister (less so the two brothers), friends she makes and loses, and her parents -- especially her father. The outside circumstances make for a setting, for the occurrences, but it is the very personal that dominates. The child is still an innocent, both misunderstood and misunderstanding, only occasionally glimpsing harsh reality (the first, terrible betrayal of her sister, for example), but also able to put it behind her in some sense -- it's not forgotten, but she does not dwell on it, each chapter almost literally a new, different chapter of her life.
       The chapters are both rich and spare -- well and subtly crafted. Ferri presents the child-like world convincingly, remembered from afar. Time conflates and expands, certain -- often unlikely -- details making a much more lasting impression than others. By not obsessing or (over-)interpreting, as many writers are wont to do, Ferri offers a deceptively simple and effective book.
       The end makes for some poignancy, and adds weight to what came before -- but it still does not add up to quite enough, more a selection of memories than a full personal portrait.
       A worthwhile read -- very well written -- it nevertheless feels incomplete (though that too is possibly an intended effect).

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Enchantments: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Linda Ferri is an Italian author.

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