Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
The Battle of the Villa Fiorita, a novel about children pitted against parents, demonstrates Godden’s technical mastery of character development and family dynamics. One of the author’s few novels set outside India, The Battle of the Villa Fiorita has garnered praise for its vivid evocation of the Italian landscape, as well as for an authentic representation of how families operate—even from critics who find its premise implausible.
For this work, Godden employs a single narrator but shifting points of view, primarily those of the two Clavering children and their mother, to tell a story unfolding in two places. The Italian countryside of exotic fragrances, sprawling gardens, and alluring beauty serves as the immediate battleground setting, while the backstory is set in conventional England, where the Claverings’ once-predictable life ended with divorce.
The story opens with two travel-weary children outside the locked gates of an Italian villa, the temporary lakeside abode of their adulterous English mother and the film director intent on marrying her. Like soldiers pushed to the brink, fourteen-year-old Hugh Clavering and his younger sister Caddie have arrived to derail the relationship between their mother, Fanny Clavering, and Robert Quillet, a widowed director who fell in love with the plain matron while filming in Whitcross, her middle-class neighborhood.
With Godden’s customary acuity for...
(The entire section is 776 words.)
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