The Nun by SimonettaAgnello Hornby

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Synopsis

August 15, 1839. Messina, Italy. In the home of Marshall don Peppino Padellani di Opiri, preparations for the feast of the Ascension are underway. This may be the last happy day in the life of Agata, the Marshall's daughter. She and the wealthy Giacomo Lepre have fallen in love. Agata however must forsake her beloved Giacomo for the good of her family. Unfortunately the extended families of these illicit lovers cannot come to an agreement in their efforts to put the tawdry matter of their offspring's affair to rest and when Marshall don Peppino dies, Agata's mother decides to ferry her daughter far from Messina, to Naples, where she hopes to garner a stipend from the King. 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.

But 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. She has accepted her life as a nun, but she is divided by her yearnings for purity and religiosity and her desire to be part of the world. She 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.
 

About SimonettaAgnello Hornby

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About the AuthorSimonetta Agnello Hornby was born in Palermo in 1945. Her bestselling debut novel, La mennulara, published in Italy by Feltrinelli in 2002 and subsequently published in twelve languages, was the recipient of the Forte Village Literary Prize, The Stresa Prize for Fiction, and the Alassio Prize. Since then she has published five novels. She has lived in London since 1972. About the TranslatorAntony Shugaar's translations for Europa Editions include Margherita Dolce Vita and Timeskipper by Stefano Benni, Carmine Abate's Between Two Seas and The Homecoming Party, First Execution by Domenico Starnone, Everybody's Right by Paolo Sorrentino, and three books by Massimo Carlotto.
 
Published December 27, 2011 by Europa. 328 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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After a crisis with Giacomo, Agata is pushed into a Benedictine convent and begins an interminable sequence of vacillation between hopes for a vocation and desires for a man.

Dec 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Nun

Publishers Weekly

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Agata Padellani, the rebellious daughter of a poor Neapolitan officer from an aristocratic family and his Sicilian wife, is forced to become a nun at age 16, her defiant spirit as resilient as the burgeoning Italian unification movement.

Oct 31 2011 | Read Full Review of The Nun

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