The silent duchess
Palermo, Sicily. In the Piazza Marina a large crowd has gathered to witness the public hanging of a young brigand. Duke Signoretto Ucria di Fontanasalsa, leader of the Noble Fathers of the Inquisition, is in attendance, and with him is his deaf-mute daughter Marianna, who is seven years old. The child watches as the rope is slipped round the prisoner's neck; there is a roll of drums and the hangman kicks away the box on which the boy is standing; the body drops and starts to rotate. The execution over, the Duke turns to his daughter: surely such a sight will force her to speak? But she remains silent and trembling, clinging to the folds of her father's robes.
Set in the mid-eighteenth century, Dacia Maraini's unforgettable novel tells the story of three generations of the Ucria family, seen through the watchful eyes of the young Duchess Marianna. Married at thirteen to her own uncle, set apart from others by her handicap, she searches for fulfilment in a society in which women face either marriage and endless childbearing, or a life of renunciation within the walls of a convent.
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - SandDune - LibraryThing
Hugely evocative of its time and place in eighteenth century Sicily, [The Silent Duchess] paints a picture of a decadent and lethargic aristocracy to whom conspicuous consumption and display is far ... Read full review
THE SILENT DUCHESSUser Review - Jane Doe - Kirkus
The Silent Dutchess ($19.95; Nov. 21; 264 pp.; 1-55861-194-0): This prizewinning 1990 novel by one of Italy's foremost writers (Voices, 1997, etc.) deftly juggles a strong feminist statement with a ... Read full review