I decided I needed to re-read this wonderful book. Reading it this second time I am struck less by the immediate story - the painful first love - as by the background story: the many years there were to mourn that first love. I am surprised the first time I did not get that so clearly. Here Elio is, for example, at the war memorial where he first (sort of) told Oliver he was interested in him:
I wondered how many people here still remembered the young men they’d lost on the Piave River. You’d have to be at least eighty years old today to have known them. And at least one hundred, if not more, to have been older than they were then. At one hundred, surely you must learn to overcome loss and grief – or do they hound you till the bitter end? At one hundred, siblings forget, sons forget, loved ones forget, no one remembers everything, even the most devastated forget to remember. . . In thirty or forty years, I’ll come back here and think back on a conversation I knew I’d never forget, much as I might want to someday. I’d come here with my wife, my children, show them the sights, point to the bay, the local caffes, Le Danzig, the Grand Hotel. Then I’d stand here and ask the statue and the straw-backed chairs and shaky wooden tables to remind me of someone called Oliver.