This strange antiwar novel is set in post-World War II Italy where Samuele, a young soldier ill with consumption, returns to his village much changed by the horrors he witnessed in battle. Always hot tempered, he is now more accepting of human foibles. This contrasts sharply with the often harsh traditions of the village. A young married woman pays with her life for a momentary indiscretion, and many feel her murder justified. Not Samuele, who tracks down the killer, who happens to be her husband and his friend. The obelisk of the title is a tall, intricately detailed structure that must be transported using dangerous maneuvers, but Samuele uses his waning strength to lead the effort in bringing this symbol of love and peace to the town square. Although not poetic, the writing is competent and does evokes the reality of village life. Library Journal, May 1995.