December 7, 2016

The Betrothed

I realized that I did read this for the Back to classics challenge, but forgot to post a little review.  I'll do that below.  (Also, reading to The Peterkin papers now to get to the 6 required for an entry into the prize drawing!)

The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni

I loved this book.  Its easily my favorite read for the year.  I read along with the AO forum discussion, as this novel is scheduled in year 8, so it also counts as pre-reading!  Win.

I read the Penguin Classics paperback {affiliate} - its was large and intimidating at first.
This is the foremost Italian novel and its easy to see why.  Its set in the period of the 1628, through the plague of 1630 and forward, and gives close-up shots of a betrothed couple who are harangued by a wealthier local man because he wants Lucia for himself.  They take us on adventures that include tricking the local priests, taking flight, going into hiding, and learning that people are not always what they seem.  Then comes the plague.  In a sweeping view of the horrors in Italy at that time, we zoom out.  Then Manzoni zooms us back in and we follow the Renzo and Lucia's separate paths, dipping into their family and friends lives at times.

There are stirring conversations throughout the book, and Father Cristoforo was my favorite character.  I didn't keep good track of my favorite quotes, but did easily find this one near the end, and Manzoni himself describes it as "the very essence of our whole story."
"...after a long debate, and much heart-searching they came to the conclusion that troubles very often come because we have asked for them; but that the most prudent and innocent of conduct is not necessarily enough to keep them away; also that when they come, through our fault or otherwise, trust in God goes far to take away their sting, and makes them a useful preparation for a better life."
I won't tell you if the couple survives the plague, or if they are united in marriage at the end.  I will tell you that its worth your time to read and you will gain what feels like a first-hand account of seventeenth century Italy, while enjoying the various characters.  Each main character is fleshed out and we see the good, bad, and ugly.  I laughed at some weakness, shook my head at others, and got angry at some of the characters.  I cried over the deaths during the plague and the images may always be with me.  Read it, you won't regret it.

1 comment:

  1. Like in James where troubles work at perfecting - completing - Christ's people. Excellent. We're a few years away from this one, though [phew]


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