Trust, written by Italian author Domenico Starnone in 2019 and translated into English in 2021, is an interesting book. It immediately attracts people’s attention with its subject. I have always enjoyed novels on human nature, relationships and especially trust. I thought Trust was just for me, but it was a little different than what I expected. There is a writer before you who keeps the reader’s curiosity high and does not reveal the secret between the characters in the end.
Trust revolves around the strange relationship of trust between Pietro, a high school literature teacher, and Teresa, his ex-student and then lover. To put their turbulent relationship in order, Pietro and Teresa reveal to each other secrets they’ve never shared with anyone, even to themselves. Two days after this big announcement, they decide that they can’t stay together anymore and break up amicably. The novel starts to get interesting after that. The reader naturally wonders how these secrets will affect these two characters and whether they will be revealed.
After Pietro and Teresa’s relationship ends, Pietro meets Nadia and falls in love with her. Soon they get married, change houses and have children. In the meantime, we witness that Pietro is scared from time to time because of the secret he has revealed to Teresa and that he believes that if it is revealed, it will change his whole life. On the other hand, Teresa comes in and out of Pietro’s life from time to time; every time, one expects that this time that terrible secret will be revealed and everything will fall apart. On the other hand, we read how connected Pietro and Teresa are to each other with such a secret.
Trust is read with the ebb and flow of the bizarre relationship between this quirky duo. Pietro’s life changes gradually with both his marriage and an article he wrote. We know Teresa, who settled in America and rose rapidly in her career, mainly through Pietro’s eyes. The characters are beautifully written. One feels the tension created by that big secret on every page. In that respect, Trust was pretty good. But in the end, when it was finished, I realized that it didn’t have a significant effect on me. Maybe things would change if I learned the secret, and even though it was terrifying, it would make me think how Teresa could love Pietro after all these years.
I recommend Trust if you are into Italian literature and would like to read about a strange relationship that has lasted for years. Enjoy!
Following the international success of Ties and the National Book Award-shortlisted Trick, Domenico Starnone gives readers another searing portrait of human relationships and human folly.
Pietro and Teresa’s love affair is tempestuous and passionate. After yet another terrible argument, she gets an idea: they should tell each other something they’ve never told another person, something they’re too ashamed to tell anyone. They will hear the other’s confessions without judgment and with love in their hearts. In this way, Teresa thinks, they will remain united forever, more intimately connected than ever.
A few days after sharing their shameful secrets, they break up. Not long after, Pietro meets Nadia, falls in love, and proposes. But the shadow of the secret he confessed to Teresa haunts him, and Teresa herself periodically reappears, standing at the crossroads, it seems, of every major moment in his life. Or is it he who seeks her out?
A master storyteller and a novelist of the highest order, Starnone’s gaze is trained unwaveringly on the fault lines in our publica personas and the complexities of our private selves. Trust asks how much we are willing to bend to show the world our best side, knowing full well that when we are at our most vulnerable we are also at our most dangerous.
Domenico Starnone (born 1943) is an Italian writer, screenwriter and journalist. Born in Saviano, near Naples, he has worked for several newspapers and satirical magazines, including L’Unità, Il Manifesto, Tango, and Cuore, usually about episodes of his life as a high school teacher. He also works as screenwriter.
Movies La scuola, The Ties (both by Daniele Luchetti), Auguri Professore (by Riccardo Milani) and Denti (by Gabriele Salvatores) are based on his books.
One of his fictional books is Via Gemito, which won the Premio Strega in 2001. It was suggested in 2006 that the mysterious writer Elena Ferrante, author of L’amore molesto and I giorni dell’abbandono, is Starnone himself.
In a collection of interviews, the Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey, Ferrante addresses these speculations; she writes that in relation to the speculation that Ferrante is likely to be Starnone, due to her anonymity, and his feeling ‘tired of everyone asking if he’s Ferrante’, she expresses ‘That he’s right and I feel guilty. But I hold him in great esteem and I’m certain that he understands my motivations. My identity, my sex can be found in my writing. Everything that has sprouted up around that is yet more evidence of the character of Italians in the first years of the twenty-first century.’
Starnone is married to Anita Raja, the literary translator who was said to be the author Elena Ferrante in a report by the Italian investigative journalist Claudio Gatti in 2016.
In 2017 an international research has compared the language of the mysterious novelist with 150 novels, revealing singular similarities with Starnone. The same research team doesn’t rule out that Ferrante’s novels are the result of the collaboration between Starnone and his wife Anita Raja.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: