This book was another RV park swap. It had fantastic reviews on the back cover, claiming it to be a masterwork and when I researched it, I discovered it is considered one of the 10 best historical novels of all time.
It's the story of a Prince of Sicily in the 1860's when Italy evolved from several separate states to a united country. I was ignorant of the political entities and geographic boundaries in Italy and was suprised to learn that while in the U.S., Lincoln was being elected and South Carolina seceded, Italy had not united into a single country.
The Prince, known as the Leopard for the family crest, is the patriarch who foresees that the forces of unification will change their way of life forever. The history of the struggles and eventual triumph of the revolt unfolds through his eyes as he observes the impact on the future generations.
The book was published posthumously, the author having been a real, and one of the last, Princes of Sicily. It was based on the life of his grandfather and created quite a stir at the time because of its holding up of the aristocracy's decadence and the expression of regret for the unification. It's difficult to appreciate the impact it had at the time.
I found it to be a challenge to read and a fantastic lesson on the history of Italy in the 19th century.
Published: 1960 (in English, original Italian in 1958) Read: July 2016 Genre: Historical fiction