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By F. Marion Crawford | Introduction by Stephen Schmalhofer
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Heir to one of Rome’s oldest and greatest families, Giovanni Saracinesca has a singular simplicity of character—a simplicity which loves peace but is capable of sudden violence; which loves and hates strongly and always to some serious purpose. He is thus admirably suited to the conditions of life as described by Cardinal Antonelli, the papal Secretary of State: “The condition of our lives is battle, and battle against terrible odds.” When he falls in love with the most beautiful woman in Rome, Corona d’Astradente, Saracinesca discovers the true extent to which his simplicity can be both a blessing and a curse. Playing with fire, he pursues his beloved, duels with his challengers, and protects his family honor—even as he struggles to distinguish the petty skirmishes of personal desire from the decisive struggles of good versus evil.
Giovanni Saracinesca, you say you love me—God grant it is not true, but you say it! Is there no truth in your love, no generosity in your heart? If you so love me as you say you do, do you care so little what becomes of me as to tempt me to love you?
Containing “the last echoes of the era when Viva Garibaldi! and Viva Pio Nono! rang out in rivalry on the streets of Rome,” as Stephen Schmalhofer states in his Introduction, Saracinesca begins F. Marion Crawford’s tetralogy on the note that rings uninterrupted through each novel—a note of solemn richness and perilous romance.
Francis Marion Crawford (1854–1909) was an American writer of more than forty novels, outstanding among which is the Saracinesca tetraology: Saracinesca, Sant’ Ilario, Don Orsino, and Corleone. Born in Italy, Crawford converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1880 and died on Good Friday 1909. His last words were: “I enter serenely into eternity.”
Stephen Schmalhofer is a graduate of Yale College and a partner at a venture investment firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut. Author of Delightful People, he writes from Connecticut where he lives with his wife and four daughters.
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