Books: Italian with Tears

TWO WOMEN (339 pp.)—Alberto Moravia—Farrar, Straus & Cudahy ($4.95).

Novelist Alberto Moravia (The Woman of Rome, Conjugal Love ) has often written about sex as man's hex. In Two Women he all but abandons sensuality for sorrow, all but ignores the battle of the sexes for the real war that raged across his native Italy in the '405. The result is a novel curiously dated as to period and theme, but strikingly different as a work from Moravia.

The two women are a 35-year-old mother and her 18-year-old daughter. Cesira is a widowed shopkeeper whose...

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