Forbidden Notebook By Alba de Céspedes

ISBN: 9781662601408


Published by (2023-01-17)

"A fearlessly probing and candid look at marital dynamics and generational divisions." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A wrenching, sardonic depiction of a woman caught in a social trap."
Kirkus (starred review)

"One of Italy’s most cosmopolitan, incendiary, insightful, and overlooked writers."
—Jhumpa Lahiri

With a foreword by Jhumpa Lahiri, Quaderno Proibito is a classic domestic novel by the Italian-Cuban feminist writer Alba de Céspedes, whose work inspired contemporary writers like Elena Ferrante.

In this modern translation by acclaimed Elena Ferrante translator Ann Goldstein, Forbidden Notebook centers the inner life of a dissatisfied housewife living in postwar Rome.

Valeria Cossati never suspected how unhappy she had become with the shabby gentility of her bourgeois life—until she begins to jot down her thoughts and feelings in a little black book she keeps hidden in a closet. This new secret activity leads her to scrutinize herself and her life more closely, and she soon realizes that her individuality is being stifled by her devotion and sense of duty toward her husband, daughter, and son. As the conflicts between parents and children, husband and wife, and friends and lovers intensify, what goes on behind the Cossatis’ facade of middle-class respectability gradually comes to light, tearing the family’s fragile fabric apart.  

An exquisitely crafted portrayal of domestic life, Forbidden Notebook recognizes the universality of human aspirations.

Book Details

Format: eBook
Price: 21.99 CAD / 15.99 USD
Published: 2023-01-17
ISBN: 9781662601408
Page Count: 288
Trim Size: 6 x 9

"Reading Alba de Cespedes was, for me, like breaking into an unknown universe: social class, feelings, atmosphere."
—Annie Ernaux, Nobel Prize laureate and author of The Years

"In her diary de Céspedes confides, “I will never be a great writer.” Here I take her to task for not knowing something about herself—for she was a great writer, a subversive writer, a writer censored by fascists, a writer who refused to take part in literary prizes, a writer ahead of her time. In my view, she is one of Italy’s most cosmopolitan, incendiary, insightful, and overlooked."
—Jhumpa Lahiri

"A fearlessly probing and candid look at marital dynamics and generational divisions, first published in Italy in 1952 . . . Goldstein’s translation invigorates a remarkable story, one that remains intensely relevant across time, cultures, and continents."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"De Céspedes deftly charts the widening gap between Valeria's increasingly desperate inner life and the roles she feels forced to play in a feminist novel that consistently calls into question the ways its narrator makes sense of her claustrophobic domestic world. A wrenching, sardonic depiction of a woman caught in a social trap."
Kirkus (starred review)

"The absorbing and abidingly resonant confession of a woman's desire to do that most elusive thing: forge a self apart from her caring for others. Forbidden Notebook can also be read as an allegory of fascism, a post-Roe cautionary tale, and corroboration of the revelatory and exhilarating but also implosive power of honest words." 
—Lisa Halliday, bestselling author of Asymmetry