It’s become a cliche that literary fiction tends to centre on a middle-aged man having a mid-life crisis and getting together with a much younger woman who helps him resolve his emotional crisis. Peter S Beagle’s In Calabria (review copy from Tachyon press) is exactly that. With extra unicorns.
Claudio Bianchi lives on his own on a farm in Calabria. The farm provides his refuge from his past, and in particular from the break up of his marriage following the stillbirth of his daughter. The trauma divided Bianchi and his wife, and their emotional distance grew from that point. A simple life of complete isolation reflects the emotional pause in his life. But the arrival of a pregnant unicorn on Bianchi’s farm becomes the catalyst for himto come to terms with his loss and the end of his marriage. Caring for the unicorn and midwiving her through a difficult birth gives Bianchi a measure of redemption and emotional closure. All this is, of course, aided by his new love, Giovanna, the postman’s sister (and a classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl).
Although competently told, there is nothing new or insightful about In Calabria. There are thousands of other stories telling this tale.
Goodreads rating: 2*