Merry Christmas! I hope all who celebrate enjoyed their day with family, friends, and good food and mirth. I enjoyed my day the same, but my thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of all those affected by the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Two months ago, the incomparable Marie from The Boston Bibliophile organized the Europa Challenge Holiday Swap and I immediately signed up. Maria also is the creator and organizer of the Europa Challenge, and with a recent visit to Europa's offices on her trip to Italy, I am beginning to feel the motivation to join the challenge for 2013. I was a bad participant in this year's holiday swap as I somehow missed a pile of packages to be sent out in the first part of December that were hiding in my office, so the recipient of my Europa Holiday gift will find their UPS package today. My apologies to Marie and to Bibliosue for my embarrassing delay.
Michael from Vancouver, a documentary filmmaker currently creating a series on art in public spaces, sent me my delightful package and was much more prompt and considerate as I received his gift a few weeks ago with specific instructions to not open until Christmas. As much as I eagerly wanted to open up the package, I minded my manners (very hard for me to do at times) and opened up my gift last night. I had put my list together of options for the swap and was hoping one in the top of the order would be selected so I was thrilled The Nun was selected! The Nun is written by Simonetta Agnello Hornby and translated from Italian by Antony Shugaar. I cannot wait to dive into the story. Don't these covers selected by Europa Editions just call out to you? The painting is entitled Reflection, and the artist is John Francis (1808-1886).
Thank you again, Michael, I so appreciate it. Happy Holidays and New Year to you and all my friends. Here's to a healthy, happy and, most especially, safe 2013.
Here's the description of The Nun from Europa Editions:
August 15, 1839. Messina, Italy. In the home of Marshall don Peppino Padellani di Opiri, preparations for the feast of the Ascension are underway. But for Agata, the Marshall’s daughter, there are more important matters at hand. She and the wealthy Giacomo Lepre have fallen in love, and her mother is determined to obstruct the consummation of their love. When Marshall don Peppino dies, Agata’s mother decides to ferry her daughter away from Messina, to Naples, where she hopes to garner a stipend from the King and keep her daughter far from trouble. The only boat leaving Messina that day is captained by the young Englishman, James Garson.
Following a tempestuous passage to Naples, during which Agata confesses her troubles to James, Agata and her mother find themselves rebuffed by the king and Agata is forced to join a convent. The Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio Stilita is rife with rancor and jealousy, illicit passions and ancient feuds. Agata remains aloof, devoting herself to the cultivation of medicinal herbs, calmed by the steady rhythms of monastic life. She reads all the books James Garson sends her and follows the news of the various factions struggling to bring unity to Italy. Though she hasn’t chosen to enter a convent, and is divided between her yearnings for purity and religiosity and her desire to be part of the world, something about the cloistered life reverberates within her. Agata is increasingly torn when she realizes that her feelings for James Garson, though he is only a distant presence in her life, have eclipsed those for Lepre.