Drawing on history and family legend, Anthony Di Renzo presents a tale of progress and reaction, irony and paradox, in which the splendors of Caserta must yield to the wonders of the Crystal Palace. Both intimate and sweeping, Trinàcria questions the price of pride and the cost of prosperity and contrasts illusions of grandeur and dreams of happiness with the pitiless truth that kills all hope and desire. As readers will learn, this is the fatal spell of Sicily--an island of loss and change--where death alone is eternal.
You alone on earth are eternal, Death. All things return to you. You cradle our naked being. In you, we rest secure -- not happy, no, but safe from ancient sorrow. But why should that concern you happy children of this modern age? That warning at the gate does not apply to you. So you think.
Di Renzo’s writing is vivid and brimful of sardonic humor. He specializes in crisp evocations of outdoor scenes, such as the bustling streets of Naples or the unforgettably cruel festival of the Cuccagna; but the main attraction is the novel's narrator and protagonist, the Marchesa of Scalea, a force of nature as powerful and inexorable as the Sicilian sun in July.
Peter D’Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish, authors of Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World
Anthony Di Renzo’s Trinàcria
peels away layers of 19th-century Sicilian history in a way that academic and popular studies of this period cannot. The novel provides an intimate perspective on sweeping public events. Di Renzo tells the story of Zita Valanguerra Spinelli, Marchesa of Scalea, who is a composite of two historical figures: Antonia Vassallo, Princess of Bellaprima, and Alessandra Spadafora, Duchess of Santa Rosalia. During her long life, Donna Zita meets kings and queens, great composers, poets, and foreign entrepreneurs seeking to make their fortunes off her island's bounty. Di Renzo’s sardonic depiction of the Marchesa’s deeply felt cynicism often kicks the modern reader in the gut: the brutality of husbands toward wives; the cruelty of fathers toward children; the impact of a woman’s revenge and of her unyielding, unforgiving pride; above all, the lost promise of Italy’s Unification to Sicilians. This finely crafted novel glitters with polished metaphors and sparking epigrams. It is a marvelous work in the tradition of Dacia Maraini's The Silent Duchess
John Keahey, author of Seeking Sicily
A triumph of wit and eloquence, Anthony Di Renzo’s Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily
displays a thorough knowledge of Italian culture, weaving fascinating historical material with astute commentaries about Italian life, ancient and modern. Di Renzo creates unforgettable scenes sometimes operatic in their intensity. His confident, beguiling style will remind readers of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s in The Leopard
and of Salman Rushdie’s at his very best. Like these authors, Di Renzo adroitly dips in and out of magical realism, but never lets technique interfere with fast plotting and vivid characterization. The novel’s brilliant, bedraggled narrator, the Marchesa of Scalea (nicknamed Trinàcria, after the three-legged symbol of Sicily), is always lively, even when speaking from her tomb, full of wisdom, caustic humor and eccentric charm. Her tragicomic story makes Trinàcria
an enormously satisfying historical novel.
Edward Hower, author of The New Life Hotel and Storms of May
What a great read this novel is, better than a trip to Sicily! Full of shock and delight, Trinàcria
forms a fascinating epic about Bourbon Palermo on the eve of disaster. In the book's title character, the Marchesa of Scalea, Anthony Di Renzo creates a woman who demonstrates the folly and passion of living life defiantly on the brink. Few writers are better at showing the intimate, sometimes comic connections between the past and the present, between the old world and the new. If you love wit and discovery, you will enjoy Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily
Jeanne Mackin, author of The Sweet By and By and Dreams of Empire