The racy Italian bestseller poised to leave Brits feeling flustered

Italy’s bestselling bonkbuster comes to Britain! Novel about a married professor who is obsessed with his student and his wife who fantasises about her physiotherapist is released in English after being bought by Netflix

  • Fidelity by Italian author Marco Missiroli released in English earlier this month
  • Racy novel follows a married coupe each harbouring their own secret desires 
  • Follows professor who makes pass at student and wife who beds a younger man 
  • Rights to bestseller snapped up by Netflix  and will be made into limited series 

A bestselling Italian novel about a married couple harbouring secret desires for other people is set to get Britons feeling hot under the collar when it is released in English this week.

Fidelity, by Marco Missiroli, won rave reviews in Italy and Netflix has already snapped up the TV rights to transform the story into a raunchy series expected later this year. 

The novel, which is released in English on Thursday, features sex scenes in the kitchen, X-rated fantasies and ‘close encounters’ between a professor and his student in a university bathroom. 

It tells the tale of Carlo and Margherita, a young couple forced to hold a mirror up to their relationship after part-time lecturer Carlos develops an infatuation with 22-year-old student Sofia. 

The novel about marital infidelity is sure to leave Brits flustered – with scenes of sex on a kitchen table and ‘close encounters’ between a professor and his student. Stock image

Suspicious of her husband, estate agent Margherita becomes equally as besotted by her physiotherapist, a charming but rugged 26-year-old who leaves her hot under the collar while treating her for an inflamed tendon in her thigh.

Missiroli has revealed that the story was inspired by his own parents who remained faithful to each other throughout their entire marriage, ‘at a cost’. 

He explained his father had revealed that remaining true to his wife had meant ‘giving up a part of himself’.

‘That’s how the question that dominates came to me: if we are faithful to others, do we betray our true self?,’ he told the Bookseller.

‘And if we choose to be faithful to ourselves – truly faithful – to what degree do we then betray the people around us?

‘These are universal questions and I am excited that Federico [Andornino] and W&N [Weidenfeld & Nicolson] have agreed to introduce a whole new set of readers to the dilemma at the heart of my novel.’ 

Italian readers have already given the novel, released in 2019, rave reviews on Goodreads, praising Missiroli’s ‘vivid and intense writing’ with one saying the novel generated ‘feverish excitement’. 

Fidelity, by Marco Missiroli (right), won rave reviews in Italy and Netflix has already snapped up the TV rights to transform the story into a raunchy series expected later this year 

One wrote: ‘Glossy writing, human and defined characters, sweet even in eroticism! Nice book that reached my heart and that calls into question a lot of the intimacy of each of us!’ 

‘Missiroli as masterful as ever. Conquered, in love, completely immersed. Flowing, deep, it makes you think a lot’, said another.  

Meanwhile high-profile Italian novelists have come out in force to heap praise on the book, with Italian scholar Claudio Magris calling the book ‘powerful, delicate and exquisite’. 

Screenwriter Roberto Saviano added: ‘Missiroli cuts right through to the darkness of our inner lives. I admire his strength in showcasing the attitudes and feelings of our time’.  

Missiroli has said the book caused a stir because readers began questioning their own relationships after they were forced to face the reality of marital infidelity. 

In an interview with the Telegraph he said: ‘I put readers at a crossroads where they were forced to see the dark side of their marriage and many didn’t like it. 

‘People said the novel wounded them. Others wrote, ‘How can you enter into my marriage like that and insinuate I am unfaithful?’ 

Set between Milan, Rimini and Rome, Fidelity tells the story of professor of creative literature Carlo Pentecoste, 35 who in 2009 has a ‘a close encounter of questionable nature’ with student Sophia. 

The book begins following on from the shock revelation he had been caught by a first-year student in the bathroom with a student, with ‘his body covering hers, hands stroking neck’. 

After having to explain himself to the Dean, Carlo decided to tell his wife Margherita about ‘the misunderstanding’

While his marriage appears to be on steady ground, Carlo still feels infatuated with Sofia, and ashamed and humiliated he wasn’t able to fully go through with the act.  

While technically remaining faithful to Margherita, with whom he also has a passionate sex life, his obsession with Sofia continues to grow. 

‘His hunger for Sofia was becoming an uneasiness that the family hearth prevented him from living fully, half of himself fighting the other half,’ Missiroli writes. ‘He wanted to know how far he could go. What was this obsession? Her a**. Then? Her voice, hearing it in the throes of passion.’

Suspicious of her husband’s version of events, architect-turned estate agent Margherita begins to develop feelings for handsome younger man Andrea, amid their intimate physiotherapy sessions. 

‘Andrea took the medical equipment and placed it on the inside of her thigh, running it up towards the crotch, applying the appropriate pressure on her pubic region,’ one passage reads. 

Questioning to herself whether Andrea is a ‘reward’ for putting up with her husband’s behaviour, she begins to secretly communicate with him as her infatuation develops further. 

In one steamy scene, Carlos tells her to reveal her fantasies while they have sex: ‘In those moments preceding climax Carlo would always ask her the things he’d never wanted to ask her and she’d tell him the things she’d never thought of telling him. 

‘She slowed down, he insisted. Margherita resumed, he squeezed her hips. Then she said, “The physiotherapist”‘.

Eventually Margherita visits Andrea’s home and has one night of passionate sex with him on his kitchen table. 

A passage reads: ‘She told herself: you did it. You took in your mouth what wasn’t yours, you undressed, you let yourself be undressed, you opened your legs on the kitchen table and demanded him, holding onto him, his strong shoulders, his strong grip; you took him in, you had him take you to bed, feeling young and desired and happy.’     

The second half of the book takes place nine years later in Milan with the couple having had a son and having moved on from their desires with the help of Margherita’s mother Anna. 

Despite their previous infidelities, neither party is willing to accept their marriage has been damaged by their actions. 

Margherita describing guilt as ‘a banal procedure’ while Carlo believes that had he had sex with Sofia, he would be able to ‘return to being faithful to Margherita’ without Sofia occupying his mind. 

After eight years of repressed desires, the past is dredged up in the form of books being delivered to the pair from an anonymous sender, leaving the couple fighting for their marriage once again. 

Published in hardback on 15 April 2021 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £14.99 

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