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.
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The Silent DuchessUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
The heroine of this novel, Marianna, is a duchess in early 18th-century Sicily. She is deaf and dumb, but she wasn't born that way. As she turns 40, she realizes that she has been married (since she ... Read full review
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Agata Alloro arms auto-da-fe baby Bagheria bay horse beautiful become belly beneath body breath brother Camaleo Campo Spagnolo Carlo carriage cheeks child chimeras Ciccio colour cork trees dark daughter David Hume Don Pericle door dress Duke Pietro dumb eyes face father the Duke feel feet Felice Fiammetta Ficarazzi Fila Fila's fingers flesh floor front gaze girl goes Grandmother Giuseppa hair hand head hold horse Innocenza inside kiss knows laudanum laugh legs Leprosi light lips look Manina Marianna tells Marianna watches Mariano married mouth neck never nose Palagonia Palermo Peppinedda perhaps Praetor realises redingote ricotta round Saro Scannatura Scebarras seems servants sheet of paper shoulders shut Signoretto sister sitting skirt sleep smallpox smell smile takes talk teeth thoughts trees tricorn turn uncle husband Villa Ucria wife window woman writes yellow young