Books Classics International Literatura Europa Reading Themes

Save the Story: Umberto Eco’s Adaptation of Alessandro Manzoni’s “The Betrothed”

Myra here.

I bought this illustrated novel of Umberto Eco when I attended (and did a presentation at) the IRSCL (International Research Society for Children’s Literature) held at the University of Birmingham in 2015.

The Story of the Betrothed

Adapted by: Umberto Eco Illustrated by: Marco Lorenzetti Translated by: Stephen Sartarelli
Published by: Pushkin Children’s Books, 2014 (First published in 2010)
ISBN-10: 1782690220
ISBN-13: 9781782690221
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Our current reading theme has given me the perfect excuse to finally take this book out from my dusty bookshelves. Set in the early 1800s, the original version written by Alessandro Manzoni is said to be part of the required text in most secondary schools in Italy.

Umberto Eco’s adaptation made the narrative more accessible to a younger audience. The plot is pretty much your standard story: lovers not allowed to marry; bad guys hired by mean, wealthy people who are out to destroy the lovers’ happiness; cowardly priests and dastardly nuns who are unable to live up to their profession; and the triumph of the lowly and the poor with a little help from people who have had a change of heart.

The story has many twists and turns (with quite a number of characters to boot), but in the hands of a skilled storyteller such as Umberto Eco, the young reader can be invested enough in the story to want to read on. There is also a tongue-in-cheek, hugely entertaining vibe to the narrative that shows how Eco does not take himself seriously – while at the same time poking fun at the powers-that-be and the larger society in general with his witty commentaries. Readers are invited to read along for the rollickin’ ride because, hey, it’s fun!

When I bought this book, I didn’t realize that it was part of a series called Save the Story:

Save the Story is a library of favourite stories from around the world, retold for today’s children by some of the best contemporary writers. The stories they retell span cultures (from Ancient Greece to nineteenth-century Russia), time and genres (from comedy and romance to mythology and the realist novel), and they have inspired all manner of artists for many generations.

Save the Story is a mission in book form: saving great stories from oblivion by retelling them for a new, younger generation.

I was so impressed by this book that I ordered three more in the series. Watch out for my upcoming book hunting expedition posts to see what the titles are. Meanwhile, find this book, and have the unparalleled Umberto Eco tell this adapted Italian story to your young ones.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “Save the Story: Umberto Eco’s Adaptation of Alessandro Manzoni’s “The Betrothed”

  1. This sounds interesting. Nice review! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: