Today another new review about another overwhelming novel: Il veleno dell’oleandro. The book is written by the author and lawyer Simonetta Agnello Hornby, an Italian writer who worked as a lawyer in England and for that she was regarded as a British citizen. The book I just reviewed was released in 2013 and was translated only in Spanish, but I believe it will soon be translated in English also.


Il veleno dell’oleandro” The oleander poison” is a book set in Sicily, the homeland of the author. In this book, Simonetta reveals all painful secrets about two influential and wealthy Sicilian families: The Carpinteri and the Lo Monte. The book opens with the funeral of the two main characters: Anna and Bede. Every chapter is a sort of monologue of the several characters of the novel, even the two dead Anna and Bede are showed like they spoke from afterlife to blame their relatives and friends.

Through this heartfelt and deep tale, the author unveils the murky relationships among the various members of these two Sicilian families. The most troubled, it is Carpintery’s family, gathered around the aunt Anna, suffering from a severe form of Alzheimer’s disease. Anna raised her nephews like her children, they are Mara, Giulia and Bede. The latter is a very strange figure, with a likewise weird past. Entrusted to Anna from his father when he was still a child, Bede travelled around the world, graduated and learned Arabic and English. Now Bede runs the manor and the patrimony of aunt Anna.

Mara and Giulia, instead, were raised by Anna after their mother’s death. Anna, indeed, married the widower, namely the father of Mara and Giulia. The time passes away and these characters take different paths. Mara lives in Rome, Giulia, married to Pasquale, lives in Sicily, precisely in Pedrara, a little country that lies on the slopes of Etna, but when aunt Anna gets sick, everybody rushes to her bedside. Among all these relatives, there is also Luigi, the real son of Anna, who, however, seems to love his grandson Bede more than him.

This confused and complex relationships among the relatives of aunt Anna form the real plot of the book. What could apparently be a tale of nurturing, loves and caring, turns soon out like a story of deception, betrayal and inner misery. While aunt Anna is about to die, her relatives prompt to seek an ancient treasure that Anna hid in the manor in Sicily.

To understand better this book, I translated an excerpt of the Italian review reported on the cover of the book published by Feltrinelli: “Like water in the soft limestone, these relatives dig into the past, seek inside the lockers, confess shameful secrets and want, all together, never owned treasures and unsaid truths. Between the shadows of the day and the night gleams, in the book it is also highlighted the interference with the local nobles, dirty deals and, above all, indomitable lusts. With this book, and thanks to an awesome imagination, the author focuses an underground world that shows with a thrill, faults, ambitions and deliverance desire of the complex universe of household”.

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