A novel that will touch your heart, Guido Mattioni’s Whispering Tides has the power within its well-crafted narrative to make the reader a protagonist, not merely a spectator, by triggering sensations that may have seemed to be forgotten but were just like fire under the ashes, waiting for a chance to take over. The yearning for a “natural paradise governed by the breath of the tides” may at first remind us of the Yeoman’s Myth, but it really has no similarity to it. Alberto Landi, the protagonist of the story, an Italian journalist from Milan, is just trying to recreate the environment in which he lived with his wife of 23 years, recently deceased, by moving to the place that they both loved, Savannah, Georgia. He does so in the attempt to find the peace, serenity, sense of belonging that he felt there with his wife, a somewhat futile endeavor, one would think, since that serenity came from being with a loved one in an ideal place loved by both, and now he is alone; the story develops, instead, as a fruitful search, and Alberto seems to find all the required components for that much longed peace of mind, the tranquility he needs and wants. Savannah is his new love and everything will be all right, or so it seems.
The chronicle of his search for a house is intriguing, since the novelist uses this excuse to offer his view of that marvelous city, describing it with details that will certainly entice the reader to go visit it, spending long descriptions on diners, waterways, bird personalities and local characters, items that certainly would be missed by tour operators and even a well-written guidebook.
The author certainly has the suitable familiarity of that city, since he is an honorary citizen of Savannah, and his love for it is genuine and as deep as the protagonist’s, who is actually modeled after him. We could assert that this is almost an autobiographical book, but since we know from the book cover that the author lives in Milan, the decision of the main character, at the beginning of the story, to move to Savannah throws us for a spin and makes us deny that possibility, which arises then and again through the book. The mixture of real and invented characters is optimal and creates the ideal milieu for a valid, well-balanced novel, and Mattioni succeeds in making the readers believe to the various developments of the narrative, surprising them at the end with an unexpected twist…
Whispering Tides was originally published in Italian as “Ascoltavo le Maree”
The characters are detailed, well described and gauged in their actions and motives, allowing for a pleasant reading, and the love for this Southern city is pervasive, almost obsessive. We can rightly affirm that this book is about love: love for a city, love for a partner, love for a way of life, and love for all the small things that make life worth living. The writer conveys his thoughts and feelings effectively and convincingly, making this book a certain winner.