The Jewish community of Ferrara, Italy, was completely destroyed by the Nazis in 1943. In this novel, set in the late 1930s, Bassani at once memorializes that community and explores the deep tensions and rivalries within it. The Finzi-Continis, the richest Jewish family in town, live reclusively in their walled estate, a standing provocation to Ferrara’s more assimilated Jews. When Bassani’s unnamed narrator’s falls in love with Micol, the family’s daughter, he undergoes an education in love, family, and class that bears comparison to Proust’s. Bassani never stops insisting on the reality and complexity of these Jewish lives, doomed though he and we know them to be.