This novel is set in the late 1800’s near the Italian side of the border with Austria, deep in the mountains. The De Boers are very poor and barely surviving growing tobacco on their small acreage.
At the opening of the novel, Righetto details the back breaking labor the family endures to produce their crop only to receive minimal in return from the conglomerate of the day that controlled their production and marketing of the product. Later, he takes an equally in-depth look at other options to earn a living, ie making charcoal and toiling in the mines. His most intense description is saved for the surrounding environment: the mountains and forests are essentially characters in the book.
Father Augusto and his daughter, Jole, are the most developed characters. Their journeys and their trials form the backbone of the narrative and lead back to the essential question of what choice do they have but to take these risks?
The chapter where Jole approaches and then crosses the border into Austria is one of the most memorable, as is the author's assertion that a line in the soil is nothing to the border between rich and poor - thought provoking and contemporary.
This is the beginning of a trilogy – I look forward to more insight into other members of the family in the upcoming novels.