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Forbidden Notebook: A Novel By Alba de Céspedes, Ann Goldstein (Translated by), Jhumpa Lahiri (Foreword by) Cover Image

Forbidden Notebook: A Novel (Hardcover)

By Alba de Céspedes, Ann Goldstein (Translated by), Jhumpa Lahiri (Foreword by)
In Stock at Kepler's Now
11 on hand, as of Feb 8 2:19am

Staff Reviews

I received my early copy from the publisher on Christmas Eve, and after reading just a few pages, I clutched it. This book moved and disturbed me, and by the end, I declared it one of the personal treasures on my reading shelf. The Cuban-Italian author Alba de Céspedes died in 1977, yet her exploration of family obligations and creative impulse is alarmingly relevant. It felt as if I had found my forbidden diary. To this day, the best part of us will remain secret unless we find the time and strength to break from the domestic routine and nurture our inner life.

Aggie's Fiction Pick for January 2023

— From This is Why I Read - Aggie’s Monthly Picks


“Powerful.” —The New Yorker
“Brilliant.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Forceful, clear and morally engaged.” —The Washington Post
“Subversive.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Gripping.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A remarkable story.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“Wrenching, sardonic.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“As relevant today as it was in postwar Italy." —Shelf Awareness (starred review)

With a foreword by Jhumpa Lahiri, Forbidden Notebook is a classic domestic novel by the Italian-Cuban feminist writer Alba de Céspedes, whose work inspired contemporary writers like Elena Ferrante.

In this modern translation by acclaimed Elena Ferrante translator Ann Goldstein, Forbidden Notebook centers the inner life of a dissatisfied housewife living in postwar Rome.

Valeria Cossati never suspected how unhappy she had become with the shabby gentility of her bourgeois life—until she begins to jot down her thoughts and feelings in a little black book she keeps hidden in a closet. This new secret activity leads her to scrutinize herself and her life more closely, and she soon realizes that her individuality is being stifled by her devotion and sense of duty toward her husband, daughter, and son. As the conflicts between parents and children, husband and wife, and friends and lovers intensify, what goes on behind the Cossatis’ facade of middle-class respectability gradually comes to light, tearing the family’s fragile fabric apart.  

An exquisitely crafted portrayal of domestic life, Forbidden Notebook recognizes the universality of human aspirations.

About the Author

Alba de Céspedes (1911–1997) was a bestselling Cuban-Italian feminist writer greatly influenced by the cultural developments that led to and resulted from World War II. In 1935, she was jailed for her anti-fascist