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Sometimes the Soul: Two Novellas of Sicily (edition 1999)
Sometimes the Soul: Two Novellas of Sicily by Gioia Timpanelli
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375707220, Paperback)For many years Gioia Timpanelli has crisscrossed the country (and the globe) collecting and then telling stories. In a world that is becoming increasingly dependent on information coming from the computer, television, and satellite dish, Timpanelli continues to communicate universal themes the old-fashioned way--through the oral tradition. In her first formal foray into the written word, Sometimes the Soul, she draws on the stories with which she has mesmerized audiences for years and crafts two fine novellas that explore within a traditional framework the lives of two highly untraditional women.
"Si cunta e si recunta"--"It is told and retold," begin the old Sicilian folktales. Both of Timpanelli's stories take place in Sicily and weave Sicilian fairy tales into the fabric of her modern-day sensibility. In "A Knot of Tears" the heroine, Costanza, has locked herself away from the world in an old villa in Palermo to give herself time to pick up the pieces of a life that has been shattered. Her beauty and her mystery touch the hearts of two very different men who glimpse her through an open window: a young man of wealth and his worldly lawyer. They make a bet as to who will speak to Costanza first. The youth consults an actress who promises to arrange a meeting; the lawyer bribes a sailor to insinuate himself into the house to find out more about the lady--a feat the sailor achieves by allowing his parrot, Nello, to fly through an open window.
"Si cunta e si recunta" the parrot repeats time and again. When the sailor comes to reclaim him, he is invited into the house where he satisfies both the parrot's and the lady's desire for stories. As the sailor tells three tales of a young princess with the magical power to heal, Costanza gradually begins to heal as well: "In a year of Good Fridays, a small resurrection of spirit was stirring. Well, as usual, the old tales had uncanny truths in them, and Costanza had often seen this princess rescuer in the everyday world, not a worldly princess, but one of the heart."
In "Rusina, Not Quite in Love," Timpanelli takes a more straightforward approach, retelling Beauty and the Beast, but even here the author's interest is less in the old fairy tale itself than in the purpose of storytelling: "It is true," said the Uncle. "These old stories are like the parables, they tell us what we know but have strangely forgotten, until we hear it again and we say, 'Oh! Yes. Of course."
Like one character's tale of an old woman who went out without her shawl, Timpanelli's stories are "simple but not so simple"; in telling them, she is advocating fiction's power to shape and transform our lives. As with all the best old stories, the two novellas in Sometimes the Soul are entertaining, charmingly told, and leave you with something to think about when they're done. --Alix Wilber
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:44 -0400)
Two novellas with Sicilian heroines. One leads a solitary life, until a parrot flies through a window and a handsome sailor follows, the other marries an ugly man in order to pay her debts and much to her surprise falls in love with him.
(summary from another edition)
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