In this week’s book-cast, we are joined by Italian Author Ilaria Bernardini reading from her book ‘The Portrait’. In the reading, we enter the life of Valeria a writer & mistress of the famous Martin, he who which she proclaims is ‘her lover’. A story of love, lies & secrets, Ilaria lets us in to the life of Valeria & her love affair across seas & hotel rooms. The story examines the lives of two women in their fifties, Valeria & Isla, who love the same man, Martin. One is his lover & one is his wife.
When Martin suddenly has a stroke, the only way for Valeria to be close to him is by asking Isla, his wife (an artist), to commission a portrait of Valeria for her latest book. Suddenly Valeria has access to his house & life so she becomes closer to one another. The complexities of this relationship between the two women comes to light, as Isla is not aware of the affair & instead, a victim of Valeria’s cunning opportunity. Alongside this, Valeria uses this opportunity to examine ‘the other woman’ & to her surprise, takes a liking to her.
The premise is stalker-ish, artistic & takes an intriguing look at the relationship between two women.
In this episode we discuss:
- Ilaria on what inspired ‘The Portrait’: a boozy night with two Italian actresses one named Valeria & a trip to Milan.
- Ilaria on the common narrative of wealthy men, who after passing away or falling ill, one hears a knock on the door of a mistress or another woman who was there during a large portion of the mans life.
- The diverse community of people in London from different backgrounds & languages who come together to create a unique tapestry of creativity.
- Ilaria’s experience having her portrait painted & the unique perspective an artist will convey with the face, the layer of time & the element of beauty in the portrait.
- Imogen’s take on the ‘deep creepiness’ of ‘The Portrait’; it’s like a game of chess between the two lovers.
- Ilaria on the protagonist’s liberating moment when you realise you need to let go of your past life, due to loss, grief or tragedy.
- The challenges of Ilaria’s experience writing in English which is not her mother tongue.
- Ilaria’s view of London & her experience being a lighthearted tourist in London’s neighbourhoods.
- Ilaria’s experience being a journalist & writer for film. “It’s challenging & lonely”.
- Ilaria’s take on being in lockdown in Italy, facing the unknown & the sudden void of quaratine. Her experience in Italy with the coming together gathering around the new loneliness hearing sirens of ambulances & the emptiness of the streets.
- Plus what’s coming up next for Ilaria, new books and more.