Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sicily 1963

At the suggestion of my dear friend Mary I moseyed over to my neighborhood library and took out the book The Almond Picker by Simonetta Agnello Hornby. Mary raved about this book, and a rave from Mary means a lot, so I put it at the top of my “must read” list.

So how was it? It’s wonderful; a time machine back to Sicily 1963.

The Almond Picker is the story of servant Maria Rosalia Inzerillo, known as Mennulara, the almond picker, whose death in the village of Roccacolomba sets off a torrent of gossip and speculation about her life, her loves, her rise to power within the household of her masters, and her supposed fortune and will. There’s lust, love, rape, betrayal, jealousy, friends, foes, family dynamics, and of course the Mafia.

Hornby holds the reader’s attention by slowly feeding the mystery of Mennulara and carefully doling out different stories of this beloved, hated, and often misunderstood woman. For me it was a wonderful character study; one that exposed the class culture of Sicily in a time when woman kept their mouths shut and obeyed the man’s rule often turning a blind eye to what was really happening.

With summer upon us I recommend adding The Almond Picker to your summer reading list. I’m glad I did.

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