Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Boy Who Was, by Grace Hallock

This book is a volume of short stories throughout the history of Ravello, Italy, which are bound together by a common character. Nino, a young goatherd, was once a friend of a Siren named Parthenope. She would sing stories to him and paint pictures in his imagination of far-off places, and Nino was her playmate. One day, Odysseus and his men sail by, with Odysseus lashed to the mast. They escape unscathed, the first time the Sirens have ever failed to lure their target. Parthenope and her sister retreat, defeated, never to return. But before she leaves, Parthenope sings one last song for Nino. She blesses him with eternal youth, able to watch over the city and its comings and goings into all eternity.

Other chapters in the book focus on significant events that occur there, and how Nino (and his goats) pay a role in their successful resolution (volcanic eruption, invasions, etc.). Cute stories, but one has to wonder what happened to him eventually!

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