A good book, like a good wine must offer some degree of complexity. A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo does just that. It is not at all what I expected. It is certainly not a history of the island.
We begin with the story of an old scroll found nestled in a volume of the Inquisition in a library in Enna, Sicily. The finder expects, as I did, that this will be a history of the island, possibly during the time of the Inquisition. As he translates it he finds the scroll instead to be a single fictional memoir of loss, doubt, and longing for truth.
The scroll becomes the vehicle for philosophical pondering about the meaning of life and what may lie beyond. The author of the scroll is an actor, Vincenzo. Through his musings the daily life in the 1930’s and historical events of the town of Enna become alive for the reader. Even small details regarding cures, strict customs and, of course, religious activities are included. Vincenzo becomes quite obsessed with the story of his uncle, also named Vincenzo, and feels a special bond with him, his namesake. He is determined to find information about his uncle’s mysterious death, a death no living relative would discuss. The fact that Vincenzo is introduced as an actor in a church play perhaps has bearing on his insecure identity and his personal spiritual challenges. Additionally, the fact that the scroll was found embedded in pages referring to the Inquisition dramatizes the book’s theme involving the impact of religion in our lives and our attitudes about our after-lives.
As we travel with Vincenzo in his quest for information about the demise of his uncle, we enter many pages of rather graphic sexual situations. This did take me by surprise but is appropriate considering the ultimate revelation of the cause of death. In his quest for universal truth the author touches on several world religions other than Christianity. This combination of real-life grit and philosophical wanderings into faith results in an interesting and unique and multi-layered read. The author is clearly highly educated and has a way with words that is both succinct and descriptive.
A Hidden Sicilian History is a historical novel based on an old manuscript which was found in the city library of Enna, Sicily.
In the second edition, I have improved the style and added a few details about Sicilian culture and Marian Sanctuaries.
The Sicilian proverbs and prayers are written not only in English but also in the Sicilian language.
The background of the book is Sicily and other countries: India, France, Portugal, Belgium, Russia, Australia, and Mexico.
Vincenzino, the main character in the novel, travels across the world to find an answer to the eternal human question: is there life after death? In the end, he will find a way out of his dilemma.
A Hidden Sicilian History will give the reader useful information about traditional processions, prayers to remove roundworms and hexes, life in the sulfur mines and in the public whorehouse, and so on.
I am sure you will enjoy this book.
Life and death pose a timeless mystery in the powerful fictional work A Hidden Sicilian History: Second Edition.
“Countless people over the years have wished to know their destiny and future. For that reason, there have been astrologers, magicians, wizards, and oracles to consult.” There have also been written histories to contemplate.
At the public library in Enna, Sicily, a young man notices an ancient scroll drift from a shelf to the floor. It appears to have slipped from between two volumes about the Spanish Inquisition.
Although he expects the scroll to be related to life in Sicily at the time of Spanish rule, instead it tells of a drama performed long ago at the deconsecrated Church of Santa Croce in Enna. It also hints of many other things.
The young man translates the lost manuscript into English and publishes it. Throughout its pages flow descriptions of traditional feasts, tips on how to remove hexes, and describes life in Enna’s public whorehouse. But one theme is common throughout: the yearning to understand the meaning of life.
When the Second World War was over, most women in Enna didn’t work outside the home … You saw ladies dressed in black in the streets … If a child had been lost, the woman dressed in black for five years. If a sibling had passed away, his or her sister dressed in black for three years. If the dead person was the husband, the widow dressed in black the rest of her life … As for men, the duration of mourning was much shorter than that of women. They usually wore black suits for a few days.
“This spellbinding story ponders the question: Is there life after death? The scroll found in the book spans many years of Sicilian history and cultural traditions, but the book is also a murder mystery,” said Lynn Eddy, VP of Acquisitions, Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Company.
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind