The Silent Duchess

The Silent Duchess


Dacia Maraini
An international bestseller from one of Italy's foremost women writers.

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Paperback ISBN: 9781558612228
Hardcover ISBN: 9781558611948
Publication Date: 01-01-2000

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Translated by Dick Kitto and Elspeth Spottiswood
Afterword by Anna Camaiti-Hostert

Finalist for the International Man Booker Prize, winner of the Premio Campiello, short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Award upon its first English-language publication in the UK, and published to critical acclaim in fourteen languages, this mesmerizing historical novel by one of Italy’s premier women writers is available in the United States for the first time.

The Silent Duchess is the story of Marianna Ucrìa, 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.

"The publication in America of Maraini's The Silent Duchess . . . is cause for rejoicing. Episodic and essentially plotless, but propelled by an inner tension, this unusual historical novel about the splendid but squalid Sicilian aristocracy of the early 18th century comes closer to belles lettres than a conventional novel." —Publishers Weekly

"Deftly juggles a strong feminist statement with a beautifully specific re-creation of 18th-century Sicily. . . . [A] carefully paced story of intellectual and moral growth . . . that's as much a charming fairy tale as an impeccably realistic chronicle of one woman's painstaking ascension to self-expression and independence." —Kirkus

"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." Evening Standard (London)

"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 Scotsman (Edinburgh)

"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." The Independent (London)

"Dacia Maraini has produced a fiction of elegance and charm." —The Mail on Sunday (London)

"A thoughtful and beautifully written book." Sunday Express (London)