That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story

That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story by Marlena de Blasi 034549766X 9780345497666
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From de Blasi (The Lady in the Palazzo, 2007, etc.), a fragrant tale of life and love in the mountains of Sicily.Shortly after the Venetian interlude she luxuriously captured inA Thousand Days in Venice(2002), the author accepted an assignment to write a magazine article on the interior regions of Sicily. Like many other journalists, she was met by silence from the wary Sicilians. She was about to retire to the mainland when she stumbled upon Villa Donnafugata, whose romantic turrets, towers, balconies and chromatically tiled roof were surrounded by gardens, fields, piazzas and hills. The black-draped, oldish women in residence tended to their various labors, chanted, laughed and prayed. The sun was hot, the smell of herbs suffused the air. Was this a fever dream? de Blasi wondered. No, but it was surely a place from another time, and how it emerged out of feudalism through an act of moral modernity was a story unfurled to the author by the villas mistress, Tosca. The tale, which comprises most of the book, is a marvel. As a child of nine or ten, Tosca was sent by her horse-breeder father to live with a Sicilian prince, Leo, who had a stallion that Toscas father wanted more than his daughter. Early rebellion gave way to affection, then love. Together, in the years following World War II, the prince and his ward brought education, health care and a shared sense of purpose to the village around their manor. Rapture and grief came in measured doses, but ultimately Leo was run out of town for his affront to the centuries-old system of hierarchy that kept the wealthy in comfort and the poor in misery. Even in 1995, when de Blasi first visited Donnafugata, the old ways abided, like the shawl Tosca wore at night, still permeated with the scent of her beloved. Swift, sinuous, deep and brimming with cultural artifacts. -Kirkus Reviews Strangers seldom wander into the mountainous wild at Sicilys heart. The locals, having resisted repeated waves of invaders, maintain their own traditions in defiance of the outside world. So when de Blasi and her Venetian husband trek into Sicilys core in search of background for a travel guide, they discover a world much removed from modern life. Persevering in what seems a fruitless search, they finally stumble upon the Villa Donnafugata, an old wreck of a castle presided over by an imperious woman called Tosca. The villa has become a refuge for widows from the region. It also houses a birthing clinic, vital to the mountains isolated women. The residents eat well and heartily, the leftovers distributed to the local towns poor. De Blasi uncovers Toscas past, an extraordinary tale of passion and love stretching over decades of the twentieth century. Admirers of this author will relish her latest volume. - BOOKLIST At villa Donnafugata, long ago is never very far away, writes bestselling author Marlena de Blasi of the magnificent if somewhat ruined castle in the mountains of Sicily that she finds, accidentally, one summer while traveling with her husband, Fernando. There de Blasi is befriended by Tosca, the patroness of the villa, an elegant and beautiful woman-of-a-certain-age who recounts her lifelong love story with the last prince of Sicily descended from the French nobles of Anjou. Sicily is a land of contrasts: grandeur and poverty, beauty and sufferance, illusion and candor. In a luminous and tantalizing voice,That Summer in Sicilyre-creates Toscas life, from her impoverished childhood to her fairy-tale adoption and initiation into the glittering life of the princes palace, to the dawning and recognition of mutual love. But when Prince Leo attempts to better the lives of his peasants, his defiance of the local Mafias grim wi

Author: Marlena de Blasi

Language: English

Binding: Paperback

Pages: 301

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: 2009-05-19


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