I have another good Italian book to recommend and I am super happy about it!
As you may know very well since I constantly repeat it in my posts, I am always on the hunt for good Italian books to recommend here on the blog and, when I find one, I am truly delighted.
To be honest, I am sure that you already know this book because it’s been a huge success here in Italy in the past two years. I am a little late to the party because I am a bit of a book snob sometimes and I tend to avoid best sellers.
That’s very bad of me, I know, and it isn’t a very smart thing to do too because sometimes I miss really good books, like the one I am writing about today: I leoni di Sicilia by Stefania Auci, probably the most popular Italian book lately.
I resisted reading it for a long time but when I saw that it was available in English as well, I thought that I absolutely had to give it a go because it might be a very good read for you! As you know, I try to pick books that are translated into English as well because this gives people who do not read Italian the chance to still enjoy good Italian books.
I leoni di Sicilia has been published in Italy in 2019 and its follow-up, L’inverno dei leoni, has been published earlier this year. The first book is available in English with the title The Florios of Sicily, while the second book has not been translated yet (but I am sure it will soon be available in English too).
I have only read the first book but I want to read the second one as well because the story is so compelling that you absolutely need to know what happens next. As you may imagine, the book is a family saga and tells the story of the Florio family, who moves to Sicily from Calabria in 1799.
In fact, in that year, a terrible earthquake hits Bagnara Calabra, the small village in Calabria where Ignazio and Paolo live and this convinces Paolo that it is time to move: there is no future for them in that remote location and they need to find their luck in Sicily.
They trade and sell spices and Palermo is the perfect location for their business because at the time it is a very important crossroads of buying and selling in the Mediterranean sea. The Florios arrive there with nothing but the clothes on their back and they are forced to begin anew.
With a lot of hard work, they manage to build a thriving business and a successful life. But things are not easy for them: there are losses, hard times, deaths, and a lot of family conflicts. The characters are powerful and very well described, so much so that you can really feel and share their emotions.
The characters are depicted with great mastery and, as I said, the story is absorbing – no wonder it will soon be made into a TV series – but I have to say that what I liked the most is the portrayal of 19th century Palermo. While reading the book, you feel as if you are directly transported to the city, with all its sounds and smells.
I can’t say it is the best book I have read in my life but I undoubtedly recommend it if you like family sagas and entertaining stories that you simply cannot put down. One thing I want to tell you, though, is that while doing some research on the English version of the book, I came across some very negative remarks about the English translation. It seems that the English translation is not really careful, I think you need to know that.
With that in mind, I think this is a very good Italian book which could make a perfect Christmas present for someone who likes Italy, likes reading compelling stories or is interested in Sicilian history. Maybe you can just do some research about the quality of the translation, I really have no clue about it.
By the way, what is your favorite family saga, if you have one?
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If you sign up to Giorno dopo giorno, you will receive an email every other day for 365 days. Each email will contain a prompt, a little exercise, something to watch, read, listen or something that will gently force you to practice your Italian every day, making it part of your daily routine.