Skip to content

Lives Of The Saints Nino Ricci Essay Topics

For other uses, see Lives of the Saints (disambiguation).

Lives of the Saints is a novel by Nino Ricci. The author's first book, it forms the first part of a trilogy. The other two novels are In a Glass House and Where She Has Gone. Lives of the Saints was first published in 1990 and was the winner of the 1990 Governor General's Awards for fiction.



Vittorio Innocente's father, Mario, has immigrated to Canada, though originally believed to be America, to pave the way for the rest of his family to come. Little Vittorio doesn't understand why the neighbours disapprove of his mother, but suspects it has something to do with the man she was with in the stable on the morning she was bitten by the snake. But it becomes clear that it is Cristina’s independence of mind and rejection of superstition that offend the peasant values in this remote village in post-war Italy. In the miniseries, Vittorio seeks comfort from his teacher, Aunt Teresa "La Maestra", who unlike the neighbours, sympathizes with Vittorio, and consoles him. Aunt Teresa hides Cristina when she becomes visibly pregnant while her husband is away, and helps Vitorrio understand life through stories in a book she gave him called Lives of the Saints, while in the novel Zia Lucia (Aunt Teresa) is a completely different character from "La Maestra". Cristina and Vittorio depart to Canada to meet Mario, but the Cristina dies on the ship giving birth to Vittorio's sister, Rita. Rita has bright blue eyes like her father, which serves as a constant reminder of Cristina's affair.


The book focuses on the unspoken affair Cristina Innocente is having with the "blue-eyed man" (Vittorio first sees when at the stable with the snake). Ever since the incident with the snake, Cristina is scrutinized by the townspeople as a "whore" who is sleeping around while her husband, Mario, is working and sending her money from America. Cristina has become pregnant and Vittorio, her 7-year-old son, remains oblivious to the entirety of the situation until much later in his life. Cristina's scrutiny leads to the isolation of the Innocente family: her father resigns as mayor and Vittorio is bullied; not to mention, Mario was informed of Cristina's pregnancy. The townspeople's ruthless treatment leads Cristina to leave the town of Valle del Sole with Vittorio. The townspeople assume it is to meet with Mario, but hinted that Cristina had actually made plans with the "blue-eyed man". It is never clear as Cristina dies on the boat to America, but the blue-eyed man does pay Vittorio a visit in the infirmary in Canada, so one may assume this. Vittorio then lives his life on his own from then.

Main characters[edit]

  • Vittorio
  • Cristina
  • Grandfather
  • Fabrizio
  • La Maestra


  • The innocence of children
  • The coming of age of the male artist.
  • Parent and child relationships
  • Growing up and coming of age
  • Individual Vs. sex society
  • Loss of innocence
  • Superstition, Luck & Beliefs

Television adaptation[edit]

In 2004, in the novel was adapted into a television miniseries, entitled Lives of the Saints, in an Italian-Canadianco-production starring Sophia Loren, Fabrizio Filippo, Jessica Paré, Sabrina Ferilli, Kris Kristofferson and Nick Mancuso. The miniseries has earned six nominations and won three awards.

External links[edit]

You’ll find resources here to help you write a term paper, ace an exam, or get a date.  Or at least sound intelligent in English class.

The basics

In case you didn’t notice them elsewhere, here are links to useful information that can be found on this very website.  Warning:  While every effort has been made to include only material that is factual, be aware that all information has been carefully edited to present Ricci in the most flattering possible light.

  • Nino’s Biography
    Find out where Ricci grew up, whether he graduated, and what he thinks his great accomplishments are.
  • Nino’s CV
    Yes, Ricci worked for College Pro Painters during his university years.  No, he was never sued by any of his clients.  And yes, his CV is about as honest and reliable as your own.
  • Nino’s Publications
    A complete-ish list of every pamphlet Ricci every wrote and every former communist state that every published one of his books, and a rather more selective list of some the screeds and propaganda sheets that have been published about him.
  • FAQs about Nino
    Find out the questions everyone else asks so you can be unique and ask totally different ones.


Not enough information on this website to suit your needs?  Bothered by the overtly propagandistic tone of many of its entries?  Try some of these links for the bigger picture.

  • Athabasca University Canadian Writers site
    Find biographical information as well as a list of articles about Nino Ricci and his work and an essay by Sonia Wilson comparing Nino Ricci, Kristiana Gunnars, and Aritha van Herk.  Also a good site for learning about other Canadian writers.
  • The Canadian Encyclopedia
    More biographical information, and links to information on awards and on the film version of the Lives of the Saints trilogy.  A great site to explore other aspects of Canadian literature, as well as to get access to the archives of Maclean’s magazine.
  • The Writers’ Union of Canada
    Mainly useful for those who want to see a picture of Nino Ricci back when he had a moustache.
  • Nino on
    Where would we be without Wikipedia?  Keeners can take the opportunity to update Wikipedia’s information and correct errors, based on their extensive research on other websites.
    Even though this is essentially a sales and propaganda site for Ricci’s publisher, you can still get quite a bit of useful information here by clicking the ‘more’ buttons beneath each book, including author profiles, readers’ guides and slightly humorous Q&As.
  • Media files
    Find links to news, reviews, profiles, interviews and other fun media, for stalkers and serious researchers.
What did you learn in school today? Sharing.