Giovanna and Costantino Ledda are a happily married young Sardinian couple living a contented village existence with their small child and extended family. But after Costantino is wrongly convicted of murdering his uncle and imprisoned, the now‐impoverished Giovanna reluctantly divorces him under a newly enacted divorce law and marries Brontu Dejas, a wealthy but cruel drunkard who has always coveted her. While enduring a slave’s existence within this new marriage as well as the community’s derision of her as the “wife with two husbands,” the broken Giovanna is unexpectedly reunited with an embittered Costantino after his exoneration and early release from prison, and the two resume their now‐illicit relationship.
An exploration of hypocrisy, expiation, and the human disruption of a supernatural order that remorselessly reasserts itself, After the Divorce is set in an insular society of ancient, religious roots grappling with the intrusion of modern, secular social mores and is among the earliest of the serious works on which Grazia Deledda’s literary reputation is based. Deledda—the first Italian woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature—critiqued the social norms of her native Sardinia through verismo depictions of the struggles of the lower classes, into which she wove elements of her own personal tragedies.