WOMAN AT WAR is the diary of a woman's growing self-awareness. Beginning as a passively absent narrator, Vannina encounters a fascinating array of characters during the holiday she takes on an island in the Bay of Naples with her husband, Giacinto. When he returns to work in a garage in Rome, Vannina travels to Naples with Suna, a friend she has made on vacation. This startling character opens Vannina to the possibility of finding love through other women and helps her reject the role of serving coffee to the men who would change the world through violence. Back in Rome, Vannina rejects her former life and moves toward complete, if difficult, independence. Maraini's writing is superb. Its warm and sensual style gives life to details: the food of the Mediterranean, the smell of its herbs, the acts of making coffee and making love, the step-by-step journey of an individual to self-awareness, self-reliance and independence. Everything is vivid and vibrant. Maraini's women grow in strength beyond the clamor of political slogans. The values of understanding, intuition and compassion effect real change that transcends the wearisome struggle between the chauvinisms of the political Right and the political correctness of the Left. A milestone in Italian literature.