Don't Move
Margaret Mazzantini
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Don't Move

Margaret Mazzantini
Nan A. Talese
368 pages
May 2004
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Italian actress Margaret Mazzantini publishes her second novel, Don't Move, a suspenseful psychological thriller. Be prepared to open this book and not want to put it down until you have reached the end. Timoteo is a prominent Italian surgeon who is married to Elsa, a beautiful Italian woman who comes from an upper class family. Timoteo and Elsa have a fifteen-year-old daughter, Angela, who is the light of their lives.

One day, Timoteo receives shocking, horrible news from a coworker at the hospital: Angela has been in an accident and has suffered a life threatening brain injury. Hospital staff recognizes Angela's name in the diary in her backpack, and Timoteo is devastated to learn that his daughter may not survive the accident. As Angela lies in emergency surgery, Timoteo thinks back and silently has a "conversation" with Angela, where he unburdens himself of a period of sin and guilt in a time shortly before Angela was born. The events in Timoteo’s life that precede the year before Angela's birth form the basis for Don't Move.

Before Elsa becomes pregnant with Angela, Timoteo and Angela live a seemingly envious life. However, under the surface, a disenchantment fills Timoteo, and his life veers onto a bizarre course one day when his car breaks down on the way to meet Elsa at their summer beach home. While Timoteo is stranded in a small town and seeking the services of a mechanic, a chance meeting with a woman named Italia culminates in what begins as a rape or near-rape - and develops into an obsessive, secret love affair between the two. Italia is shabby, scrawny and drawn-looking, and Timoteo is simultaneously repulsed by and attracted to her. Italia is the opposite of his wife, Elsa, and Timoteo cannot resist Italia, who does little, if anything at all, to seek his attention.

Timoteo seeks out Italia on his own terms, and he cannot stay away from her. Italia is poor, disadvantaged and single. While she appears to have nothing to lose by this affair, both Timoteo and Italia begin to feel the cost of their relationship. With Timoteo calling the shots and leading the direction of their affair, he must decide whether he wants a life of passion and thrill with Italia, or the beauty and predictable comfort of life with his wife, Elsa.

Timoteo's story unravels throughout the novel as he pours out his heart “to” Angela. In the process, the reader is treated to a novel of remarkable depth, complete with erotic suspense and raw emotion. The story moves back and forth from Angela's life-threatening condition to Timoteo's affair with Italia. A taut suspense is present throughout the novel, and unexpected twists continually increase the suspense. Don't Move is an electrically-charged novel, and the translation from Italian to English was well done; the spirit of novel and the intelligent, articulate prose was not "lost" in the translation. This book is highly recommended to fans of psychological thrillers.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Shannon I. Bigham, 2004

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