From the author of the Inspector Montalbano series, the remarkable account of an exceptional woman who rises to power in 17th century Sicily and brings about sweeping changes before being cast out in a coup after only 27 days.
Sicily, April 16 1677. From his deathbed, Charles III’s viceroy, Anielo de Guzmán y Carafa, marquis of Castle Rodrigo, names his wife as his successor. Eleanora de Moura is a highly intelligent and capable woman who immediately applies her political acumen to heal the scarred soul of Palermo, a city afflicted by poverty, misery and the frequent uprisings they entail. The Marquise implements measures that include lowering the price of bread, reducing taxes for large families, re-opening women’s care facilities, and establishing stipends for young couples wishing to marry—all measures that were considered seditious by the conservative city fathers and by the Church. The machinations of powerful men soon result in Donna Eleanora, whom the Church sees as a dangerous revolutionary, being recalled to Spain. Her rule lasted one cycle of the moon.
Based on a true story, Camilleri’s gripping novel tells the story of a woman whose courage and political vision is tested at every step by misogyny and reactionary conservatism.
Bestselling and award-winning Italian author Camilleri (the Inspector Montalbano series) offers a marvelous historical drama based on a true but little-known episode of 17th-century Sicilian history. In 1677, Sicily is ruled by Spain. When the Viceroy, the King's representative, dies in office in Palermo, he names his wife, Donna Eleonora di Mora, as his replacement. The Holy Royal Council, six corrupt, venal officials, are outraged by the idea that a woman should govern Sicily. The councilors are all liars and thieves, and now they fear for their lives. They scheme to undermine her rule, but Donna Eleonora is a beautiful, shrewd, and very calculating woman, more than a match for these desperate and arrogant men. She understands them and cleverly thwarts every move they make, subtly setting them up for exposure, disgrace, and prison, especially those involved in the shameful, scandalous arrangement with the Holy Refuge of Endangered Virgins. However, one councilor, the bishop, has one card left to play, resulting in three murders, his fateful denunciation, and the surprise end to this excellent novel.