Francesca’s presence pervades the lives of those she meets.
She leaves an indelible mark, the true nature of her personality revealed through other people’s encounters with her.
Her boldness as a spoilt child. Her temporary (and just) suffering as the victim of a shrink – an ambiguous and even more unscrupulous person than her in grasping anything graspable. And the more than explicit revelation of her blind egocentrism, because of which she ignores the one person who has tried tirelessly to help her.
Three very different characters tell the same story about the enigmatic woman who has entered their lives, each one illuminating who Francesca really is, from their own point of view. Each character has made an error of evaluation which they realise has prejudiced their lives and their relationships. An omniscient narrator will have the final say.
This is the first version in English of Errors of Evaluation by the Italian writer Paola Pica and has been translated by Janice Burberry.
Number of pages – 99.
‘…it’s enough to know a person’s weak points to do what you want with him.’
Several days after I finished reading Errors of Evaluation I’m still not sure what I think of it or how much I liked it. This very rarely happens to me, I’m usually quite sure of my opinions but this novella has puzzled me, which I guess could be a good thing but it hasn’t made it easy to write this review.
Paola has written a book that concentrates very firmly on four characters. That of Francesca, who the book is essentially about and the three characters who are telling their story of her – Marco, Massimo and Elena. I generally love to hate a character and within Errors of Evaluation there is little to like about any of the characters with the exception of Elena. Francesca has left a definite mark on those she has come into contact with and Marco, Massimo and Elena each give their view of her. The first three chapters are narrated in the first person by each with the fourth chapter being told in the third person. The total detachment from the main character, Francesca, through the lack of her voice and yet the unique insight the reader gets into her personality works really well.
A tale of control and manipulation, initially I felt that Francesca, although spoilt and narcissistic, was the victim of the men who manipulated her in order to keep her as their trophy. As the book progresses, however, it would appear that Francesca is as grasping as the men she has been in relationships with and manipulates them to meet her own needs. The question for me at the end was who was the greatest at the art of deception?
Paola has created utterly contemptible, unscrupulous characters. She uses a mix of psychological theories to explore the darker side of relationships. Each believes they knew Francesca but at the end they discover that this was not the case and each has been wrong in their assessment of her.
Translated incredibly well and with a beautiful use of language, I really enjoyed the prose in Errors Of Evaluation. It has a very European feel about it despite their being little indication of the setting in Italy. This is a very character-based book and despite the lack of surrounding description I felt myself drawn into it and into their strange psyches.
Very much unlike anything I have read recently I’m not sure that this book will appeal to everybody. If you have an interest in psychology and a penchant for the despicable, you will enjoy Errors Of Evaluation.
Thank you to Paola Pica and Authoright for the copy of Errors Of Evaluation.
Published 26 July 2016 by Clink Street Publishing.
You can purchase a copy HERE.