Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Marchesa

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.


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...


Praise for The Marchesa

“Charming and engaging, this novel will please readers of family sagas as well as fans of Hornby's first book.” —Booklist

“In this wonderful follow-up to her acclaimed novel The Almond Picker, Hornby again delves into the lives of an Italian family. . . . An engrossing tale of one young woman's perspective on a dramatic time in Italian history. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal

“A voluptuously enjoyable historical novel . . . [its] luscious imagery, emphasis on family mythology and constantly conflicting passions all make for an entertaining read.” —The Guardian (UK)

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Simonetta Agnello Hornby; Translated by Alastair McEwen

Simonetta Agnello Hornby was born in Palermo and finished her law studies in England, where she now lives. She is also the author of The Almond Picker (FSG, 2005).

Simonetta Agnello Hornby

Alastair McEwen

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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