The Leopard Hardback
A bitter-sweet tale of quiet lives in the small and apparently timeless world of mid-19th century Sicilian nobility.
Through the eyes of his princely protagonist, the author chronicles the details of an aristocratic, pastoral society, torn apart by revolution, death and decay.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 304 pages
- Publisher: Everyman
- Publication Date: 26/09/1991
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781857150230
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Review by P_S_Patrick
Sadly, this is the only novel written by the author, and he only just completed it before he died. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, as I see it, good in that he managed to finish writing the book in time, bad that he did not start writing a bit earlier in life so he could have rattled off a few more. But, the preface has something interesting to bear in mind, which having read the book I found myself recalling and agreeing with. It says that an author can only write his first novel once, and that subsequent novels will be affected by the previous works, perhaps not being all that they could have been if they were written without the influence of other ideas. I don't know how true this is, but the author apparently spent his whole life immersed in literature, reading, teaching, discussing it, and this appears to have culminated in him writing this single excellent novel. The story itself is based around his family history, which doesn't sound in itself anything to get too excited about. The story centres around the Prince of Lampedusa - the Leopard - the authors great grandfather. It details family life, the changes occurring in Italy politically, and life in Sicily. The plot isn't intriguing or fast paced, or overly stimulating, but there's enough "human interest" and understated drama to keep the reader interested. This is not really what the book is about though, this book is subtle, and would lose its effect with anything too theatrical or exaggerated going on. This isn't to say that the book is not impressive though, it is just impressive in descriptions of the nuances of the characters moods, the varied environments, and the often wry or amusing interchanges of dialogue. This book paints a now non-existent world, and thanks to the author it has been preserved, if only in fiction for us to enjoy.