A brief, potent, and audaciously written novel about a husband caring for his dying wife, and the shifting nature of their relationship as the end approaches.
Anna, an Englishwoman, has married, quite late in life, a merchant marine officer, an Italian. Beginning—and ending—at a point shortly before her death, the story told in The Limit focuses attention on her past and his future along lines of narrowing perspective. In the ten years of this odd couple’s life together, the limits of devotion have somehow been reached. And yet, when Anna can no longer speak and appears to understand nothing, Ilario feels closer to her than ever. But Anna, so old, ill, and wasted, is a child again.
This altogether singular, remarkable novel has been as good as unobtainable for decades. Its reissue has been long awaited by Rosalind Belben’s admirers.
About the Author
English novelist Rosalind Belben was born in Dorset, where she still lives. Her novel Our Horses in Egypt won the James Tait Black Award in 2007. Her other novels include Hound Music, Choosing Spectacles, and Is Beauty Good.
Paul Griffiths is a Welsh novelist, librettist, and music critic. His novel Mr. Beethoven was published by New York Review Books in 2021. He lives in the village of Manorbier, Wales.
Praise for The Limit
“I can’t think of anyone writing in English (with the possible exception of Beckett) whose prose is so beautiful.” —David Plante
“The grotesquerie is Swiftian, but the compassion is uniquely Miss Belben’s. The Limit becomes a great tribute to the overcoming strength of human love, and to the resilience of a human being even at the extremest margins of life. The book possesses the dying woman so amply as to make her, as we say—broaching fiction’s deepest paradox—live.” —Valentine Cunningham, The New Statesman
“I’ve always admired the work of Rosalind Belben, a truly original writer, who has gone her own way all her life.” —Gabriel Josipovici