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The Miracles of Santo Fico    by D. L. Smith order for
Miracles of Santo Fico
by D. L. Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the story of an ailing community, well off the beaten tourist track on the Tuscan coast, but proud of its Miracle and its Mystery. The author tells us of four young people who tried to remedy the situation by switching signs to bring in visitors - best friends Leo and Franco, clownish Guido (called Topo by the others), and the lovely, fiery Marta.

Now Marta is an embittered widow with two daughters - pert, flirtatious Carmen, and blind Nina who made everyone feel that 'they had experienced a blessing'. Her husband Franco is dead, and Leo has just returned from America as the village's prodigal son. Topo wonders what happened to make Leo leave in the first place, and why he is living in a shepherd's hut instead of in his family home.

When a tour bus loses its way and deposits English travellers in Santo Fico, Leo sees his chance to make enough money to escape again, but things don't turn out as he anticipates. The reader wonders (and slowly learns) why Leo is an outcast, and what happened the night of Franco's bachelor party. Many in the village are unhappy, from Maria Gamboni whose husband disappeared long since, to Topo whose passion is unrequited, and Marta's old uncle Father Elio with his own secret sin and regrets. One night they all call for help.

After disaster strikes the village, Marta sets Leo a deadline for a manufactured miracle and the fun begins, as Leo and Topo make farcical attempts to set things right. This series of botched miracles has the same feel as the action in one of my all time favorite movies, For Roseanna, also set in Italy. Like the movie, The Miracles of Santo Fico is a tragi-comic adventure which leads to a sentimental, satisfying and surprising denouement, as it deals with the true miracle of people who care enough to try to help each other.

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