One of today's most imaginative and lyrical writers, Lisa St. Aubin de Teran weaves together passion, idealism, and adventures in this mesmerizing fable set against the ornate backdrop of nineteenth-century Italy. The palace is the vision of Gabriele del Campo, a young, idealistic stonemason's apprentice imprisoned for supporting Garibaldi's revolutionary unification of Italy. A poor peasant, he has falen in love at first sight with the rich and beautiful noblewoman Donna Donatella. He yearns to be pulled out of poverty, and dreams of winning Donatellaa's heart and building a palaceworthy of his love.
As del Campo languishes in prison, he takes the first steps toward his dream. His cellmate Colonel Giovanni Vitelli, a nobleman, educates him in the customs of the gentry; meanwhile, in his mind elaborate plans for the palace's construction are already taking shape. Twice escaping execution, del Campo emerges from prison to find wealth as a fearless gambler in the corrupt underworld of Venice. Winning a large estate in Castello at a sinister high-stakes gambling house, Gabriele begins to build the palace of his dreams. At last he might win Donna Donatella's love.
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Take Dante Alighieri's passion for the divine Beatrice, marry it to the picaresque adventuring of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, hand the whole thing over to the Brothers Grimm for some fine-tuning, and you might end up with something remarkably similar to Lisa St. Aubin de Terán's The Palace. This is the tale of young Gabriele del Campo, a soldier in Garibaldi's army during the 19th-century Italian Risorgimento. While languishing as a prisoner of war, this former stonecutter meets Colonel Vitelli, a nobleman who educates him in the ways of the upper classes. After many near-death experiences in prison, Vitelli and Gabriele are liberated and agree to meet again in Venice, but the colonel never arrives. While he awaits his friend, del Campo begins a rapid transformation from rustic stonecutter to man of means, aided by an astounding run of luck at the gambling tables and a friendly gondolier named Giovanni, who becomes his valet, advisor, and companion.
But what is a fairytale without a love interest? In The Palace, that role is assumed by the phantom figure of Donna Donatella, the daughter of a prominent landowner for whom Gabriele did some work before the war. Though he glimpsed her only once and has never seen her again, del Campo dedicates his life and newfound wealth to creating a palace fit for his dream girl. St. Aubin de Terán invests her story with wit and not a few surprising twists--for in the end, Donna Donatella may well have been supplanted in Gabriele's heart by the very monument he has built to celebrate her. Charming, subtle, and evocative, The Palace is a remarkable novel that explores the mercurial frontier between passion and obsession. --Margaret PriorAbout the Author:
Lisa St Aubin de Terán is the award-winning author of several novels and has also published a volume of poetry, a collection of short stories, and a memoir, The Hacienda, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is the founder and managing director of the Teran Foundation, a charitable organization that works to establish schools and farm projects in the north of Mozambique. She lives in Amsterdam.
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