Set in a small, rural village in Italy in the 1950s, Lives of the Saints is the first book in Nino Ricci's trilogy. In this first book, we see the events unfold through the eyes of Vittorio. He paints a picture of his mother, Cristina, as a willful woman who enacts her desires and is unashamed of her choices, particularly regarding her affair with a man with blue eyes. Such a description already gives a hint of the gossip this has caused in the town. Despite being shamed by the small community she is in for being pregnant, she pays no heed to her neighbors' judgments. Instead, she seems to be all the more fueled by their mockery to rebel against ways that, to her, are backward and unnecessarily stifling. However, things take a turn when her father, who is likewise inundated by this guilt and shame, resigns as town mayor. As an elder, he is less willing to bend the village's age-old beliefs; moreover, being a town official, he has a reputation to protect and morals to uphold for a small town built around tradition, superstition, and religious fervor. It is this very guilt and shame, and the way they treat and react to these differently, that later creates the chasm between Cristina and her father, causing them to be ultimately estranged from each other.