Why a booktrail?
The opulence of Puglia contrasted with the horrific poverty of the war veterans and settings that will take your breath away. Based on true historical detail.
Story in a nutshell
Leandro Cardetta, once poor has now returned to southern Italy after having made his fortune in America. he now is rich enough to hire renowned English architect, Boyd Kingsley, to renovate a crumbling palazzo into an Art Deco palace. Once its done he wants to invite his teenage son and his second wife , clare, for a summer.
But 1921 is a difficult time for despite the wealth of this man, there is much tension in the region. Veterans of the Great War are starving and unemployed. Leandro’s nephew Ettore wants revenge for the death of his fiancee and one day comes to Leandro for help. Meeting Clare will change everything
The summer of 1921 will change a great deal for the family and reveal the secrets of how each one really came to be there.
Place and setting
The Italian sun sits high in the sky burning down on everyone and everything below. Slowly and surely the heat burns and raises the temperature of the landscape and the people going about their business. A family is meeting in luxury in Puglia – they have come from far and wide to be here yet their reasons for doing so are quite different.
Bari’s Streets seem alien after so many weeks in Gioia at at the masseria ; they are too big, too wide, too long.
This could well be the last day she ever spends in Puglia and if the choice is hers it will be.
An italian who has made his fortune in New York returns to Puglia where luxury sits with poverty. Leandro although rich is still not accepted by those he would like to be. With a glamorous American wife, he’s determined to make his mark. But how did he get so wealthy – and just what secrets does his wife hide?
Against the backdrop of war and poverty, the men who toil and sweat for hours doing back braking work only to support their families contrast with the shine and opulent luxury of Leandro’s home seen shallow and unstable –
Hunger is like a stone in your shoe. At first you think it’s an irritation, but it doesn’t really hinder you. But then it makes you limp and makes it hard to walk. The pain grows
The class divides here are revealed by Ettore who lives in poverty and is taken to his uncle’s farmhouse when he is injured and where he reveals his humble background as a slave worker. Rich and poor, those in work and those without – the class divide is strong and unrest lingers in the air and demonstrations are not far away.
Katherine’s portrayal of the poverty and the contrast between the rich and poor was very skillfully done for it included all shades of black, white and grey of the issue and showed the tension and feeling of the people on both sides. The truth and the secret which spill out are horrifying.
Class and politics ruled the roost in the post Great War Era. This is a good way to experience life in Puglia at a very significant and dangerous time.
For information on the area and to see the town of Alberobello which first inspired Katherine to write this story, then please visit the link below. Alberobello is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Katherine Webb is a writer I like more with each book she writes. For the places and people she writes about come alive off the page and you feel their pain and experience their lives with her. The settings are always very strong and evocative and this one, Puglia, is no exception. Perhaps it is even stronger since it is the setting of so many different stories and experiences coming together.
I knew nothing of the situation in Puglia and the situation of latifundism or land ownership and the workings of the large masserias. This was a major time in the south of Italy and the years leading up to Mussolini coming to power, the workers of the south had fought and struggled for their own sense of order. This was a volatile region at that time and so via the eyes of an outsider (Clare) , we can see this in all its shattering and horrifying ‘glory’.
The overlying theme is the haves and the have nots, the poverty of some and the wealth of the few, the harshness of the reality of war and the everlasting consequences.
And throughout this a love story, and not just with the lyrical descriptions of Puglia. Katherine Webb has been inspired by real and actual events and the attention to detail is outstanding.
A must read!