The House on Moon Lake

From the first page of this exquisitely fashioned novel, it is obvious that one is embarking on a rich, tantalizing read. At once gothic, literary, and thoroughly modern, THE HOUSE ON MOON LAKE follows protagonist Fabrizio Garrone as he finishes yet another ill-paid translation for the publishing industry of Milan, then happens upon a reference to a mysterious novel by an obscure Austrian writer. Fabrizio’s decision to find the book and translate it leads him on a wild-goose chase in which reality and the imagination, past and present become interwoven for Fabrizio and the reader alike.

Reared among the ancient volumes in his family’s villa, then plunged into poverty, Fabrizio feels more at home with books than with people--except for his childhood friend, Mario, who grew up in the groundskeeper’s cottage and who is now a successful publisher. Yet even with Mario and Fulvia, Fabrizio’s efficient, golden-skinned lover, Fabrizio feels excluded--and sets up barriers to ensure that he remains so: In searching out the elusive novel (also entitled “The House on Moon Lake”) whose translation will gain him acceptance by the very critics he most despises, Fabrizio refuses to trust even these two close friends.

The consequences of Fabrizio’s detachment are both the flowering of his own genius and a denouement in which that genius seems to turn fiction into truth. THE HOUSE ON MOON LAKE combines enchantment and suspense with prose that is fresh and enticing in this excellent translation. It certainly deserves the several prizes it garnered when first published in Italian.