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The Marchesa

A Novel

Simonetta Agnello Hornby; Translated by Alastair McEwen

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A richly evocative tale of a woman's struggle for life and love  A triumphant follow-up to Simonetta Agnello Hornby's internationally
acclaimed The Almond Picker, this entertaining new novel is an intricate family saga interwoven with violent passions, cruelty, deceit, and the abuse of power. The Marchesa is an eyeopening historical drama about a remarkable woman and her extraordinary family, and the complex, often abusive relations that mark the lives of master and servant, brother and sister, husband and wife.

Costanza Safamita, beloved daughter of Baron Domenico Safamita, is a precious but unusual child. Redhaired, gawky, and shy, she is considered an outsider by many on the family estate, but her adoring father makes her sole heir to the Safamita fortune, and then everything changes--for them and for her. Now she must conquer glittering, alien Palermo--where, uncertain of her future, she falls in love with a charming, dissolute young marchese whose sexual appetite she fears she cannot satiate.

The Marchesa's brave, unusual story offers an unprecedented woman's perspective on the incestuous hypocrisy of the Sicilian aristocracy during a dramatic time in its history, as the Bourbon monarchy collapsed, the Mafia rose to power, and Palermo's decadent aristocracy began its inevitable decline. These themes are flawlessly woven into the fabric of Costanza's triumphant life, so that The Marchesa becomes not only an unforgettable human tale but a masterly fresco of a vanished world.

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Chapter One"God ministers to old and young alike."December 1898
On the Montagnazza, Amalia Cuffaro, wet nurse to Costanza Safamita, chats with her niece Pinuzza Belice as she braids her hair.Amalia Cuffaro finished spoon-feeding Pinuzza with the pap made from dry bread and goat's milk. Using a corner of the napkin tied round Pinuzza's neck, she wiped her mouth and chin--Pinuzza dribbled and would often spit out the food, even the things she was fond of--then gave the napkin a good shake and flicked off the bread that Pinuzza had spat onto her shoulder. The ants were lying in wait: the most populous
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    The Marchesa

    A Novel

    Simonetta Agnello Hornby; Translated by Alastair McEwen

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