Literary Fiction

Il rovescio dell'abito

(The Lining of the Coat )

Ugo Guanda Editore, February 2022, pp.304

A glimpse at the extraordinary life of Marquise Luisa Casati Stampa, who chose to live her life as “a work of art”.

Highly educated, witty, eccentric, full of life, wealthy, extravagant, intelligent, much wooed, an avid collector and patron of the arts, Luisa Casati was all that and much more.

A journey through eccentricity, lovers and a passion for clothes that led to ruin, in a game between building on a true story and interpreting a possible truth.

In February 1932, in her house outside Paris, Marquise Luisa Casati Stampa, the wealthiest woman in Europe, receives a visit from her lawyer, Milanese Giuseppe Bassi, who has come to announce the collapse of her fortune. Her huge estate is being seized and, within a few months – eight, to be precise, Bassi tells her dramatically – she “will not have even a rock left to rest her head on”.

Born in 1881 to a family of industrialists who owned a gigantic fortune, at the age of nineteen she married Marquis Camillo Casati Stampa, a Milanese, from whom she separated. The Marquise led a life of extravagance and excess, frequented the art world, bewitching artists of the standing of Gabriele D’Annunzio, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Man Ray, for whom she was an inspiration and friend, as well as possibly an occasional lover.

Caught on the edge of misery, in which she would live for the next twenty-five years (she died poor and alone in 1957, in London), she revisits her human adventure in flashbacks, in moments involving her ex-husband, her lawyer, who assists her during this dramatic change in status, and the dressmaker who has always followed her love of a sophisticated style and her total originality, wholly independent of any fashion

Ugo Guanda Editore, February 2022, pp.304

Marta Morazzoni

Marta Morazzoni (Milan, 1950) teaches literature at a high school. She made her debut in 1986 with La ragazza col turbante (Girl in a Turban), a collection of short stories that achieved clamorous success among critics and readers alike, both in Italy and abroad, where it has been translated into twelve languages. Her other books have been equally successful. Among them are the novels Casa materna (His Mother’s House) (1992, Premio Campiello shortlist award), Il caso Courrier (The Alphonse Courrier Affair) (1997 Premio Campiello award, 2001 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize) and Fuoco di Jeanne (Jeanne’s Fire) (2014), a fictionalised biography of Joan of Arc.
Marta Morazzoni’s unconventional narrative stands out for its bare and incisive style – a clear example of literary perfectionism. In 2018, the Premio Fondazione Campiello gave her a lifetime achievement award.

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