Book Review: The Don Camillo Series


Giovanni Guareschi's books could be the "pick-me-up" you need.

This book review is written by Tony Traficante.

The Don Camillo Books

Want some light, enjoyable reading? Treat yourselves to this series of books by Giovanni Guareschi, an Italian political journalist and humorist whose writings are satirical and entertaining dealing with political intrigue, social change and personal vendettas..

The two primary characters in this series are Don Camillo, a Catholic priest, and his constant antagonist Peppone, the village mayor. The stories take place during the height of the Cold War in a small rural Italian town…

Don Camillo is a strong-willed but wise priest constantly at odds with the cunning Communist Mayor Giuseppe Peppone Bottazzi. Both priest and mayor share a deep concern for the well-being of their little town’s citizens, but differ over what’s best for them.

Peppone loves making passionate public speeches praising the virtues of the Communist party while vilifying the non-communist reactionaries, who he thinks should be shot. Don Camillo, on the other hand, condemns and preaches against the heathen, godless Communists.

In the books, the Communist Party happens to be the principle and often only political party in the Italian town. Don Camillo feels a responsibility to be not only the town’s religious leader, but also the opposition political functionary. And, even though the two bicker constantly in public, Guareschi allows the reader to sense a certain secret respect between Priest and Mayor.

Throughout the books, the irascible Don Camillo frequently consults with Christ on the Crucifix for help and guidance, and the reader is witness to these wonderful, amusing conversations. Christ, with exceptional tolerance, offers direction and, more than often, gentle reprimands for Don Camillo’s intolerance.

“Lord, let me beat him up for you!” “You’ll do nothing of the kind,” sayeth the Lord. “But, Lord, you can’t trust a red! Let me at least hit him with this candle!” “NO,” scolds the Lord, “Your hands were made for blessing.”

The message in many of the Don Camillo books, identifies the schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Communist Party. In one book, Dom Camillo, against better judgement, is persuaded to accompany Peppone to Russia, not as a priest, but disguised as a comrade-in-arms. In another, he takes on the “decadence” of the arrival of pop culture and motorcycles in his town. In yet another book, Don Camillo ‘inherits’ a young assistant priest, who he believes was sent to report on Camillo’s progress on implementing the changes ordered by the Second Vatican Council. As always, Don Camillo, has his own agenda.

These stories are witty, interesting and enjoyable. Some titles, The Little World of Don Camillo, Don Camillo and His Flock, Comrade Don Camillo and Don Camillo, may be found on Amazon.com.

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