General Fiction

Mara. Una donna del Novecento

(Mara. A Woman of the 20th Century)

Ponte alle Grazie, February 2020, pp.304

With an honest, unprejudiced pen, Ritanna Armeni breaks down taboos and tells the story of an ordinary person, a young woman who believed in Mussolini, a Fascist woman. A great, female fresco of the last decade of the Fascist period.

Born in 1920, Mara is thirteen when this story begins. She lives in Rome. Her father is a shopkeeper, her mother a housewife. Her best friend Nadia, a staunch Fascist, takes her to hear Mussolini in Piazza Venezia unbeknown to her parents. She is a girl like so many others, who enjoys reading and wants to be a writer or a journalist when she grows up. She harbours many dreams and hopes: to study Latin literature and become beautiful and independent like her aunt Luisa, with her small hats and her quick, confident step. The future seems within reach, safe under the eyes of the Duce, displayed between two armchairs in her lounge. This is what Mara thinks of Benito Mussolini, and so do many other Italians who rush to stand beneath the balcony in Piazza Venezia. That is until doubt worms its way in, producing little cracks, opening wounds and altering individual and collective fates.                                Telling the stories of women, their desire for freedom, emancipation, revolution but also love, tenderness, a family, knowledge and wholeness. This is where Ritanna Armeni’s true talent lies.

Ponte alle Grazie, February 2020, pp.304

  • Ritanna Armeni subverts what we imagine about women’s emancipation through Mara’s clear, contradictory voice; Mara, a young woman of the Fascist period.”

    Rosella Postorino, author of At the Wolf's Table.

  • “Ritanna Armeni’s novel teaches us to let go of ‘clichés and ‘established convictions’ by giving the chapter about women who grew up during Fascism a depth so far missing from general assumptions and shared culture.”

    Pierluigi Battista, Corriere della Sera

  • “A free outlook that, with a difficult and highly successful balance, accompanies the entire history.”


  • “An astonishingly clear voice that describes Italy under Fascism through a story that speaks to us and about us.”

    Nadia Terranova, author of Farewell, ghosts

Rights Sold

Brazil: Autentica

Ritanna Armeni

Ritanna Armeni (1948) is a writer and journalist; she was editor in chief of Noi Donne and worked for the Manifesto, Rinascita and L’Unità. With Ponte alle Grazie she has published Di questo amore non si deve sapere (No One is to Know about this Love – Premio Comisso for non-fiction) about Inessa Armand, Lenin’s secret love, Una donna può tutto (A woman can do anything), the fascinating adventure of the Night Witches, an all-female soviet regiment at the command of fragile and precarious military planes that stopped the advance of the German army in 1942 and Mara, Una donna del Novecento.

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