Books: The World's a Stage

^THE STRAW MAN (461 pp.)—Jean Giono—Knopf ($5).

In 1848, the 19th century's great year of revolutions, Milan staged its famed Five Days' revolt against the Austrian rulers of northern Italy. Stepping out into the clamorous street, Hussar Colonel Angelo Pardi, youthful hero of Jean Giono's new novel, suddenly saw his fellow patriots like actors on a stage—officers strutting by, each with "a finger to his mustache as if to the trigger of a gun"; women's handkerchiefs fluttering from every balcony; grand carriages pulling aside to allow a princess in "working-class petticoats" to lead past...

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