Class Summary & Study Guide

Francesco Pacifico
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Class Summary & Study Guide Description

Class Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Class by Francesco Pacifico.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Pacifico, Francesco. Class. Melville House, 2017.

Class tells the story of an elite social circle of wealthy Italians who divide their time between the cities of Rome and New York. The story is told from the perspective of a narrator who reveals at the start of the novel that she is dead and is witnessing events from the lives of people she has hurt during her own life.

Part I follows the story of Ludovica and Lorenzo, a married Italian couple in their early thirties. After Lorenzo secures a grant to conduct graduate study at Columbia the couple moves to New York. They settle on the district of Williamsburg in Brooklyn because Ludovica wants to live there, although it is inconvenient for Lorenzo. Lorenzo aspires to become a film director after making his own short film. After Ludovica overhears someone criticizing the films she becomes doubtful about the plausibility of his ambitions.

Ludovica leaves Lorenzo to stay with an Italian acquaintance named Nico Berengo in his Manhattan apartment. At Berengo’s, Ludovica attends many social gatherings and meets a man named Sergio who resents the connections that led to Lorenzo receiving grant money to study at Columbia. During her stay, Ludovica has a sexual encounter with Berengo. She also meets Berengo’s childhood friend Gustavo Tullio who is visiting from Rome. Ludovica decides to return to Rome to help her family run their bookstore.

Part II follows the characters of Berengo and Tullio who go shopping for gifts for Tullio’s five children. Berengo introduces Tullio to his friend, the Pulitzer-prize-winning American author James Murphy. Murphy and Tullio harshly criticize Berengo for his sexual encounter with Ludovica. Berengo leaves them to visit his friend Sergio and both of them complain about Tullio.

Part III follows the character of Gustavo Tullio. Back in Rome, Tullio discovers that his wife Maria has hired Ludovica as a babysitter. Tullio and Ludovica have a drink together as they wait for Tullio’s sons to finish soccer practice. Privately, Tullio fears the consequences of his attraction to Ludovica. Tullio returns home and insists his wife must fire Ludovica. After an uncertain period of time, Ludovica contacts Tullio and they begin having lunch together. Tullio tries to cut ties with Ludovica but she shows up unexpectedly at his gym.

The focus of the narrative shifts to the narrator (named Daria) telling the story of a summer camp attended by herself, Berengo, and Tullio, when they were children. The camp used humiliating hazing rituals to induct the children. Tullio helped Daria escape one such ritual but then went on to have anal sex with her in the woods. An abusive sexual dynamic developed between Tullio and Daria that continued throughout their adolescence. Daria went on to have another teenage relationship with a boy named Sergio, but he broke up with her when he realized that she was still having sex with Tullio.

The narrative returns to the present day from Sergio’s perspective. Sergio is very wealthy as a result of money he inherited after his mother’s death. When he was a graduate student Sergio developed an intense resentment of another student who received unfair preferential treatment and grant money when Sergio did not. Sergio transfers his longstanding resentment of this student to Ludovica’s husband Lorenzo, whom Sergio also suspects of receiving unfair preferential treatment. Sergio decides to prank Lorenzo by convincing him to fly back to New York from Rome for a phony business meeting.

Part IV begins from the perspective of Lorenzo as he flies to New York for a business meeting with Sergio. At the meeting, Lorenzo meets a beautiful Italian woman named Anna who invites him to come back to a friend’s apartment with her. Anna and Lorenzo have sex, some of which Anna films. The next day Lorenzo gets a message from his wife Ludovica telling him not to come home. Ludovica’s friends confirm to Lorenzo that she knows that he has been unfaithful. Lorenzo returns home and discovers that Ludovica has changed the locks.

The narrator, Daria, tells the story of her perspective on the prank. She arrived in New York to visit Berengo but they had an argument and Berengo sent her to stay with Sergio instead. Berengo destroyed all of the clothes in Daria’s suitcase and Sergio bought her some new ones. Daria joined Sergio for the phony business meeting with Lorenzo. Later in the trip she met the novelist James Murphy. After the death of a minor character, Murphy came to Rome for the funeral and began an extra-marital affair with Daria.

Meanwhile, Tullio and Ludovica are having an affair and Tullio’s physical and emotional abuse of Ludovica causes her to have a psychological breakdown. The coherence of the narrative breaks down as different characters blur into one another and Daria dies.

The novel is followed by an extensive epilogue/appendix featuring the novelist James Murphy’s notes about Nico Berengo: Berengo had many lovers who all knew about each other; he once convinced one of his girlfriends to pay him for kisses; he did not have a job and lived off his parents’ money. The novel ends with a transcription of a rant from a minor character who confesses to pretending to be poor in order to gain credibility in his attempts to launch a hip hop career.

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