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Fabrizio's Return by Mark Frutkin
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Fabrizio's Return

by Mark Frutkin

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463383,764 (3.88)11
A brilliant novel packed with delights: grand romance, alchemical potions, violins to make you weep, commedia dell' arte theatre, reappearing comets, rambling skeletons and cracks in time. It is 1682 in Cremona, Italy. With his manservant, an insolent dwarf named Omero, Fabrizio Cambiati, a priest, climbs the town clocktower to await the return of a comet that is said to reappear in the skies every 76 years. He has a new invention called a telescope with which to scour the night. As they await the comet, he scopes the town below and sees the commedia dell' arte players setting up in the town square and a Jesuit arriving in a carriage. We later learn that the Jesuit is Michele Archenti, a Devil' s Advocate sent from Rome to investigate the candidacy for sainthood of this same Fabrizio Cambiati - 76 years later The novel then begins again, this time in 1758 when Archenti settles himself in the town to assume his investigations. It is his job to find the flaws in Fabrizio' s character. In this attempt, he interviews a number of citizens, including an old duchess who holds a secret about Fabrizio' s life that would ruin the reputation of this priest, who was both a hidden alchemist and healer. The play held in the town square connects the two time periods by reflecting the goings-on in the wider world. We meet the players, as well as the duke, his beautiful daughter, a happy madman roaming the countryside with a skeleton on his back, and a hunchback who lives with his mastiff in a labyrinthine palace that is, like imagination itself, continually mutating. With enormous assurance and a wonderful affection for his characters, Mark Frutkin haswoven a miraculous tale that explores the ambiguous nature of reality and on every page packs joy into the reading.… (more)
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Showing 3 of 3
The writing is bad. O_o
  GinnyTea | Mar 31, 2013 |
In 1682, a priest climbs a church tower in Cremona to watch for Halley's comet. 76 years later, a devil's advocate arrives in Cremona to investigate whether the priest is really worthy of canonisation. But just as the comet returns, echoes and ripples from Father Fabrizio's life start to eddy into that of the new arrival, and before long, despite his initial credo that "Mother Church cannot abide ambiguity", the devil's advocate is experiencing confusing thoughts and emotions...

The thing I liked best about this book was the descriptions of rain, from a light drizzle to a fog which is almost a physical presence. Other than that, I found the book fairly insubstantial. I didn't especially believe in the Jesuit's change in character - he steps out of his carriage a cynic and before long is troubled by even the flimsiest stories of miracles. I have nothing against magic in books, but this one didn't really work for me.

Sample sentence: My story pertains to deeply hidden truths that can burst forth, without warning, on a grey spring morning when the fields are heavy with fog. ( )
1 vote wandering_star | Mar 13, 2010 |
I loved this book. The language is poetically beautiful and the story was interesting. Frutkin writes this historical novel with just a touch of magical realism. ( )
  Nickelini | Jun 19, 2008 |
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