The Silent Duchess
Afterword by Anna Camaiti-Hostert
Finalist for the Man Booker International Prize
Set in Sicily in the early eighteenth-century, the novel tells the story of Marianna, the daughter of an aristocratic family and the victim of a mysterious childhood trauma that has left her deaf and mute, trapped in a world of silence. In luminous language that conveys both the keen visual sight and the deep human insight possessed by her remarkable main character, Dacia Maraini captures the splendor and the corruption of Marianna's world and the strength of her unbreakable spirit.
"Maraini brilliantly conveys the mixture of luxury and squalor in which the Sicilian aristocracy lived. . . . The Silent Duchess manages totally to overpower the reader with its narrative urgency. . . . Since she won the Prix Formentor in 1963, Dacia Maraini has produced nothing finer than this."
"This is a novel of the greatest vividness. It arouses intense feeling. It provokes thought. It invites the reader into a world which is very different from that in which we live, and yet immediately recognizable as true and valid. . . . It is illuminating, moving, and entrancing."
"The Silent Duchess has a subtlety of perception, a delicacy in probing emotions and above all, an elusive feel for history itself. . . . The narrative has the richness of a saga. . . . This history of a woman's quest for dignity is an astonishing achievement."
"Dacia Maraini has produced a fiction of elegance and charm."
"A thoughtful and beautifully written book."