ONLINE BOOKS The Girl on the Via Flaminia author Alfred Hayes –

First time reading Hayes although I ve nown about him for some time now A uick short novel that brings sadness to your heart and the truth to your eyesTimes during WW2 not only made it difficult for the men but also the women Hayes in a short time manages to capture our main characters beautifully Do yourself a favor and read it Like the Italian Neo Realist filmmakers he worked with in Italy Alfred Hayes focusses his social drama against the larger backdrop of a world at war The Europa Edition has taken a novella sized story and printed it large and long as it it were a novel this is unfortunate because it really could never be and good as it is it shrinks into the presentation And the opposite is probably true if it had been presented as a short story this work would seem much distinguished than here fluffed out to twice its real sizeHayes has a very impressive r sum as a screenwriter he worked with the leading lights of the postwar Italian new wave Vittorio de Sica Roberto Rossellini Federico Fellini later with Fritz Lang and Nicholas Ray in Hollywood Most writers would give anything to have even one of those names on their list of credits Maybe Talk to Me knowing that is whateeps the reader feeling that this is something of a treatment a summarization of what will be a dramatic rendition on the screen Because it seems that way as if the notes for a dramatic rendition on the screen Because it seems that way as if the notes for set of workshop classes in drama scenarios to be built upon rather than a set novella form Regardless Hayes is clearly writing from life here and it s an unusual perspective the view of the reluctant conueror in a fallen city As you read you can see the film and it is a compelling story I loved this modest novel It starts in a uiet way The wind blew through Europe It was a cold wind and there were no lights in the city The cold wind blows through the rest of the narrativeIt s set in Italy just before the end of the second World War but nobody new at this time that the war would end in a few months The war has been going on for than the war would end in a few months The war has been going on for than years Sometimes men would escape from the prison camps near the Austrian border They would come home to their wives so terribly changed the women would shriekIt is not a psychological novel There is no deep analysis of what goes on in people s heads In fact most of what goes on inside the head is terribly private and the awful pathos of what is not shared intensifies as the novel goes on Lonely pe. Robert is an American soldier in occupied Rome during the final months of World War II Lisa is a young. ,
The Girl on the Via Flaminia

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Ople at an awful time and all of it simply and beautifully writteni didn t now SIMPLY AND BEAUTIFULLY WRITTENI DIDN T KNOW and beautifully writtenI didn t now I was so involved with the central the American officer Robert and the desperate but sadly dignified Italian young woman Lisa but it grew on me gradually through the plain direct writing the clarity of the experience Robert wants a girl not just a one off prostitute He wants a regular clean girl a simple exchange sex with a decent nice young woman for a bit of cash which will buy her coffee and food and all the things her country is starved ofBut she is a decent young woman and the transaction turns out not to be simple And although they are not in love they are not just in sex either She is articulate and rebellious She is also completely trapped You see all of it from both points of view hers and his You feel for them both This is such good writingHe bent down and issed the visible corner of her mouth Her face was very cold He looked at her for a moment and then went out of the roomI was stunned by the ending It will haunt me for a long long time they bomb each other they destroy cities but a girl in bed is a crimeIt s no secret that women in wartime often resort to means outsides their usual moral code and in this short novel set during the tail end of WW2 in Italy the plight of women forced to make desperate choices mirrors the ambiguous nature of the Liberation of Rome which to many Italian citizens was of an Occupation than a Liberation Hayes places a British and an American soldier into the home of an Italian couple Ugo and Adele their adult son Antonio and Lisa an ordinary Italian woman forced to sell her body to soldiers for food and shelter This sets up a boiling pot situation Antonio and Lisa are resentful of the Occupier s sense of entitlement and superiority Adele like Lisa has found an unlikely way to make a living by renting out her rooms to soldiers and girls and Ugo wanders around mourning the loss of Europe I m old Ugo thought and I m tired We were not made to be happy Happiness is a condition we have permanently lostThe city had no beauty now The river had no history When you stood on one of the bridges and looked at the city you thought of home and were depressed and it seemed because of the grayness over everything that this war had been going on forever and it would never endRobert the American soldier is trying to carve out a semblance of home by set. Woman obliged to work in Mamma Adele's on the Via Flaminia The passion they feel for one another is fue. Ting up a room with Lisa urging her to unpack and relax This forced domesticity is delicately written and filled with suspense her to unpack and relax This forced domesticity is delicately written and filled with suspense doom Robert is arrogant na ve piggish and we feel sorry for him but not much we mostly want to shake him because he s the only one not seeing things for what they are The room is choking with tension He fumbles around not understanding the anger directed his way Why does Lisa hate him when he s American How could she possibly He s the immature and misguided character put there to embody the LiberatingOccupying Allies He s demonized but we see things though his eyes too Nothing is simple and no one is right Meanwhile down the hallway the British soldier stares into his wine glass in the dining room and dreams of home lamenting that it s been 5 years since he s seen his wifeAntonio broods in
his roomeveryone s 
roomEveryone s a makeshift home in an unrecognizable world Of course Adele Pulcini said seeing how agitated he was and nowing that soldiers could be ugly and dangerous when the things inside them began to hurtThe death of innocence the complexities of perspective and the sacrifice of soldiers and ordinary people is deeply captured in this small book Especially poignant is the vilification of Lisa and women like Lisa Her papers small book Especially poignant is the vilification of Lisa and women like Lisa Her papers confiscated her ID branded Robert confused again wonders why their arrangement was such a problem because no one came after him If you ve never read Alfred Hayes if you ve never experienced the pit of the stomach sadness that his writing produces in me time after time do yourself a favor and read The Girl on the Via Flaminia or In Love or to a slightly lesser extent My Face for the World to See These three novels will wound you but you ll be grateful for them She thought we do finally what we thought we were incapable of doing and it is less that we thought the doing would be and at the same time And nobody listens nobody cares one is alone There are no drums no overture no curtain rising The audience is cold or asleep And yet could she have Could she have gone on No it was impossible to have gone on It was only possible if there was love He was right in saying that would have made everything excusable But there was no love He did not want love He wanted something else something that had only the appearance of love and it was better that it had ended and tomorrow she would leave the house and that would be the end of it. Led by their separate and eually desperate needs But can love between victor and vanuished ever blossom.