This is a gripping account of the life and fate of the woman who almost assassinated Benito Mussolini. 7 April 1926: on the steps of the Capitol in Rome, surrounded by chanting Fascists, The Honourable Violet Gibson raises her old revolver and fires at the Italian head of state, Benito Mussolini - the darling of Europe's ruling class.
The bullet narrowly misses the dictator's bald head, hitting him in the nose.
Of all his would-be assassins, she came closest to changing the course of history.
What brought her to this moment? The daughter of an Anglo-Irish lord, she had once consorted with royalty and the peerage.
Yet terrible unhappiness lurked beneath that glittering surface.
She loved Italy and when Mussolini's thugs took it into the moral cesspit of Fascism, she felt she had to act.
She paid for it for the rest of her life, confined to a lunatic asylum, like other difficult women of her class.
Frances Stonor Saunders' moving and compulsively readable book rescues this gentle, driven woman from a silent void and restores her dignity and purpose.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 384 pages, Illustrations, ports.
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 04/03/2010
- Category: Biography: historical, political & military
- ISBN: 9780571239771
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Review by klarusu
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was an engaging and informative portrait of an unusual woman I knew nothing about. What surprised me was how much I learnt about the peripheral history of the time, particularly the history of Ireland and its dubious past relationship with Britain. I was also surprised that I enjoyed the writing style - it was very much a characterisation of the individuals but even so, it didn't verge too far towards fiction-esque biography to put me off. I would certainly recommend this - it was a quick and stimulating read, informative and inventive life writing.