The second Don Camillo book in English goes by two names, depending which side of the pond you encounter(ed) it on. This has tricked more than one Amazon customer, some responding with spiteful 1-star reviews when they learn that, having just bought a secondhand copy of Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son expecting new stories, they’ve actually acquired the text of Don Camillo and His Flock again (or vice-versa).

That said, it’s definitely worth owning at least once!  

Don Camillo and His Flock, by Giovanni Guareschi.
Copyright Giovanni Guareschi, 1952. Translated by Frances Frenaye. NEW YORK: Pellegrini and Cudahy, 1952. Library of Congress card catalog number 52-9359. First published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz, Ltd.; 1952 under the title Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son.

Return to the Fold

More adventures of the big, outspoken priest and his opposite number in the Communist camp. With both America and Russia sending over supplies and representatives in an effort to win the people’s allegiance (and votes), it’s up to Don Camillo and Peppone to negotiate a particularly Italian brand of peace in their little village. Whether their aim is to help get a local boy his big break in show business, to defend a thoroughbred dog from a cruel master, or to insure that no one in the Little World goes hungry when it can be prevented, this team proves that sometimes there’s no friend like a good enemy.

Don Camillo and His Flock (or, if you prefer, Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son) is a direct translation of the second Italian collection of Don Camillo stories, Don Camillo e il suo gregge (and the US title is a direct translation of the Italian one). A new translator, Frances Frenaye, was hired (wonder why — anyone know?); she would go on do several more of Guareschi’s books.

Curiously, both US and UK editions list a publication date of 1952, while the Italian on which they’re based wasn’t released until 1953. Flock has 34 chapters, eleven more than its predecessor, The Little World of Don Camillo. Perhaps, in the light of the first book’s success in English, fewer stories from the Italian original were omitted this time around.

As indicated in the chapter list below, the American version of this book contains one extra story (the final one, “Appointment at Midnight”) than its British counterpart, the latter opting to conclude with the trio of flood stories. I’m guessing that US publisher Pellegrini and Cudahy, known for publishing religious books, were especially taken with the Christmas story at the end of The Little World of Don Camillo and wanted Flock to end similarly.

Chapter Synopses:

  • The Little World — A re-introduction to the Po River Valley and its hard-headed inhabitants
  • The Thirteenth Century Angel — A parishioner’s bequest leads to the discovery that the church-tower angel is a work of art.
  • The Dance of the Hours — The Reds have installed a new clock in the Town Hall, but it’s out-of-sync with the church’s clock.
  • Rhadames — A local boy gets his big break as an opera singer; can Don Camillo cure his stage fright?
  • The Stuff from America — Poor Straziami accepts a food parcel from Don Camillo, and then must face the Party.
  • A Matter of Conscience — Don Camillo commissions Peppone to take some “Divine Providence” to Straziami.
  • War to the Knife — When Don Camillo finds and reports a Red arsenal, Peppone gets revenge.
  • The Polar Pact — The Reds occupy a local strip of land, and Peppone defies even the US Navy to remove them.
  • The Petition — Hard-headed Tonini won’t sign Peppone’s “peace petition.”
  • A Solomon Comes to Judgment — Peppone settles the case of two neighboring villages who must share a school.
  • Thunder on the Right — Lightning strikes the church spire, but Peppone is paid back for his gloating.
  • Red-Letter Day — Peppone believes he’s invited to move to Russia, and suddenly he’s not so sure it’s such a promised land.
  • The Strike — A general strike is on and the village is suffering, until five mysterious strike-breakers get to work.
  • Thunder — With the help of Peppone, Don Camillo acquires a hunting dog.
  • The Wall — An unfortunately situated Madonna threatens an important building project.
  • The Sun Also Rises — Peppone experiences doubts about Party tactics.
  • Technique of the Coup d’Etat — Believing they’ve won the national elections, the Reds prepare to start the Revolution.
  • Benefit of Clergy — New parents Smilzo and Moretta take their stand for the principle of Free Love.
  • Out of the Night — Smilzo has second thoughts about his offering to the church.
  • The Bicycle — A bicycle thief has some second thoughts of his own.
  • The Prodigal Son — Brusco’s not looking forward to a reunion with his son.
  • Shotgun Wedding — She’s a Catholic, he’s a Communist; what will it take to bring this Romeo and Juliet together?
  • Seeds of Hate — A local village declares independence of Peppone’s rule…
  • War of Secession — …and as war brews between the two villages, the river water rises.
  • Bianco — An old trolley horse responds to one last call of the whistle.
  • The Ugly Madonna — A particularly unattractive statue of the Madonna reveals her inner beauty.
  • The Flying Squad — Though at odds in a propaganda war, Don Camillo and Peppone team up to save Peppone’s son.
  • Horses of a Different Color — Old Romagnolo is determined not to have a church funeral when he dies.
  • Blue Sunday — One son of the Little World finds it hard to be happy away from the land.
  • Don Camillo Gets into Trouble — Exiled to Monterana after a violent episode, Don Camillo longs for a familiar Face.
  • When the Rains Came — When the rains come, the village cries for its exiled shepherd.
  • The Bell — The village is finally flooded, but Don Camillo holds the fort for his evacuee parishioners.
  • Everyone at His Post — The flooded town is deserted, except for old Maroli, determined to die in his bed.
  • Appointment at Midnight (US edition only) — Winter arrives; will Peppone’s boycott of the church last through Christmas?