Silvio Baldeschi is a rich Italian who is trying desperately to write a book. His beautiful wife, Leda, supports him in his writing. They have an incredible sex life, which the author Alberto Moravia expresses again and again throughout the novel.
Silvio decides that he and Leda should move to someplace quieter so he can concentrate on his masterpiece, so they move to their country house in Tuscany. But something is still missing, because Silvio cannot write. Day in and day out he tries, but at least the nights keep getting better, sex-wise. Finally Silvio concludes the sex is zapping the energy he needs to write. With his wifeís consent, they agree to forgo conjugal love until his novel is finished. We can all see where this is leading, right?
The writing progresses, ten pages a day, and Silvio is done in twenty-one days. In the meantime, he hires a barber to shave him everyday because he canít learn to do it on his own.
The barber Antonio is known as a womanizer, but of course when Leda complains to Silvio about the advances Antonio makes on her, he doesnít want to believe it. Antonio is the only barber in the area. If not for him, Silvio would have to travel twenty miles to the city every day just to have a shave, and that is too much valuable time he could spend on his writing.
I donít think I have to tell you how the story progresses. Silvio is all about himself, and he does not care about anything other than himself and his concerns. He cares about his wife only in as much as it affects him.
Silvio likes to describe people in detail and point out their flaws, but when it comes to himself, it seems he is perfect and can do no wrong. Of course, Leda is so meek and submissive that she will not even consider leaving him when he does not believe her about Antonio.
The book is rich in detail and narrative, transporting the reader to that time and place. You feel as though youíre watching the characters play out their parts; indeed, it actually feels like a play youíre watching onstage. Hmm... I think I would have liked it more if I had seen it as a play; perhaps then Moraviaís story would have a greater impact.