Natalia Ginzburg, one of Italy's great writers, introduced "A Family Lexicon," her most celebrated work, with an unusual disclaimer: "The places, events and people are all real. I have invented nothing. Every time that I have found myself inventing something in accordance with my old habits as a novelist, I have felt impelled at once to destroy everything thus invented." "A Family Lexicon" re-creates with extraordinary objectivity the small world of a family enduring some of the most difficult years of the twentieth century, the period from the rise of Mussolini through World War II (Ginzburg's first husband, who was a member of the resistance, was killed by the Nazis) and its immediate aftermath. Every family has its store of phrases and sayings by which it maintains its sense of what it means to be a family. Such sayings and stories lie at the heart of a great novel about family and history.