Paulo Cognetti describes the friendship between Pietro Guasti and Bruno Gulielmina that, begun in childhood, spans three generations. Despite the differences in upbringing of these two Italian boys and the paths their lives take, the two maintain their closeness.
Pietro, a lonely city boy from Milan, is from a middle class family that spends their holidays in a cabin in Grana, a quiet secluded mountain village in the foothills of the Dolomites. Bruno, also starved for friendship, is a local boy who herds his family’s cows. The two develop a close friendship, and together they spend many summers together exploring the mountain’s meadows and peaks.
Over the decades they also discover the similarities and differences in their lives, their origins and their futures.
The story is narrated from Pietro’s point of view, looking back on his life, his family, loss and love and the importance of the mountains in generations that came before him and the differences between father and son and the disconnect that was created between them.
This is a story of fathers and sons, of friendship and of belonging and of change. The boys grow into men, their friendship evolves, and the village itself becomes different.
The mountains – the Dolomites around Grana and later the Himalayas – are the protagonists as “they affect the landscape that also affects the ‘landscape’ of their lives.” Mr. Cognetti helps the reader understand what some crave from the natural beauty, as well as the thrill and exhilaration this beauty offers others.
The simple writing invites the reader to reflect on the value of friendships and the relationships within families.
In 2017, “The Eight Mountains” received the most prestigious Italian literary award, Strega.