by Luisa Brenta
128 pages – published May 2014
paperback ISBN: 978-1-925101-06-5
eBook ISBN: 978-1-925101-09-6 / Kindle ISBN: 978-1-925101-10-2
My Grandmother’s world comes back to me in curiously still flashes, as if I had been taking pictures, long ago, and they had turned yellow and brown through the years. It’s pictures of her face – as in one of those French lessons with her that had become compulsory when I turned ten. Grandmother would collect her mouth around a French Ü and look as if she was going to produce an egg from the wrong orifice.
what people are saying about The Company of Men
With the clarity of the child’s eye and the wisdom of the adult’s hindsight seamlessly working together in the writer’s voice, Brenta effortlessly reels the reader into her charming fictional memoir. While all the family members – as well as the servants who tend them – are deftly drawn, the conservative and indomitable grandmother is the pivotal character. Her slow but astonishing transformation teaches the young girl timeless lessons about class and power and love. If you know and adore Italy even a little bit, you will fall under the languid and colorful spell of The Company of Men. Bellissimo.
Laurie Taylor, author of Said the Fly
I loved this book – it’s lyrical, languid, atmospheric, uniquely sensual.
Dusty-Anne Rhodes, author of Hard
Luisa Brenta’s The Company of Men pulls us immediately into a world where the windows are too tall for anyone to escape from, the chair positioning too lonely, and where no one dances to the pianist’s music. It is the sombre world of her grandmother’s house in Milan in the Sixties, seen from the eyes of ‘Lotti’, a precocious ten year old. Life with grandmother is all about rules and regulations, when you can’t swing your legs under the dining table, the difference between ‘carottes Julienne’ and grated carrots is to be understood, and the need to maintain appearances to stifle any kind of malicious gossip is paramount.
Growing up in India around the same time when life was dictated by similar rules and regulations, I wish I had a great-grandmother like Bisnonna, who is my favourite in the book. Bisnonna tells Lotti ‘not to throw herself away to some fat bag of money’. This book is about a family of feisty women, and what they do in The Company of Men. The novel has a surprise ending for the little girl who grew up to be a young lady in a house where the windows were up there and never opened. Infused with the languid, laid-back atmosphere of a time from not-so-long-ago, the story reminds one to reach for that glass of lemonade and go sit in the sun for a while.
Abha Iyengar, author of Flash Bites, Shrayan and Many Fish to Fry