Like Visconti's film The Leopard, this magnificent novel paints in sensuous colours the story of a family. It brings to new life the ancient disparaged south of the Italian peninsula, weakened by emigration, silenced by fascism.
According to family legend, David Pittagora died as a result of a duel. His death is the mysterious pivot around which his grand-daughter, an independent modern woman, constructs an imaginary memoir of her mother's background and life. She follows the family as they emigrate to New York - where they find only humiliation and poverty - and after their return to Italy in the early 1920's. As she is drawn by the passions and prejudices of her own imagination, we see how family memory, like folk memory, weaves its own dreams.
Marina Warner spent her early years in Cairo, and was educated at a convent in Berkshire, and then in Brussels and London, before studying modern languages at Oxford. She is an internationally acclaimed cultural historian, critic, novelist and short story writer. Her non-fiction works include The Beast to the Blonde, No Go the Bogeyman, Fantastic Metamorphoses and Stranger Magic, while her fiction includes the novels The Lost Father (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), Indigo and The Leto Bundle, and short story collections including Murderers I Have Known. She lectures widely in Europe, the United States and the Middle East and was appointed CBE in 2008.
An idiosyncratic and haunting novel: lush, slow-paced, sensual, metaphorical and, at the same time, anxiously worrying over the demands of kinship and the trail of history... This is a cultural historian's novel and the scholarly curiosity that went into Marina Warner's fine books of female myths and iconography makes here for a devotedly careful recreation
Observer - Hermione Lee
Warner's language and pace astonish and reward. Her characters, male and female, elderly and children, strike again and again the unexpected true note, whether playing, grieving, lusting, skinning fowl for dinner or complaining about politics
Sunday Times - Marianne Wiggins
The Lost Father has all the pleasure of a literary crossword puzzle, combined with a brilliantly realised women's world... It is Warner's best novel so far
Guardian - Lorraine Fletcher
Marina Warner's fiction has a slow, dreamy quality that is at once pleasurable and slightly sinister... This is a moving book, and a very bookish one
Times Literary Supplement - Lorna Sage