It starts, in 1974, with a girl (it always starts with a girl). Aldo and Vanda, youngish Neapolitans, have been married for twelve years. They have two children, Sandro (nine) and Anna (five), and a fair income from Aldo’s university job; they go on family trips to campsites and beaches. They’re models of everyday life. But when Lidia (nineteen) enrols on Aldo’s ‘economics and business’ course, his head is turned and he walks out of the family home. He’s away for four years – and then he comes back to Vanda. Lidia vanishes. The marriage goes on. They’re still together today.
This is the backdrop to Ties, Domenico Starnone’s thirteenth novel. It’s also its plot, which exists only as a sideshow. Yes, a con man steals some euros and a burglary seems to happen, but all the real action is decades past, since when everyone’s been trapped in its