by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa
I really enjoyed reading The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa as I have been in the mode of ‘heritage’ learning as of late. Having grown up around many Italians, and later living in Little Italy in NYC, learning about the Sicilian society was a treat. The story begins in the mid-nineteenth century where the protagonist, Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, and his people are in the midst of a civil war. The novel follows a 25-year period during which Fabrizio grows into an old man, facing the change of leadership within the country and the eventual merging of the separate “city-states” into one country with a changing political system. Fabrizio’s family (nephews and children) play large parts as secondary story lines, showing the process of falling in love, family commitment to one another, and the challenge to stay true to the elders of the ‘tribe’. Fabrizio’s own aging process as a family patriarch and the ability to stand firm against other governmental leaders to keep his community intact are traits to be admired and followed. One gets a real sense of the old European traditions, politics, and family values. I can see why this was such a huge success when it was published. A strong book worth reading!