Perhaps, you could be forgiven for not liking Seven Price’s “Lampedusa”; it’s slow-paced and – unless you’re connected to Southern Italy in some way – the culture that permeates the story may seem a little, well, foreign. But I suggest all that is part of its charm.
And it is a charming book.
Price paints a wonderfully perceptive picture of a man in physical decline, his illness taking him in only one direction. As such, he constantly offers us juxtapositions of past and present, the intrusion of memory. What future there is for the Prince, is represented through Gio (the soon-to-be-adopted son) and the Prince’s novel, “The Leopard”.
I especially liked the way Price handles the Prince’s last days; he is understanding and sentimental in just the right way, and the fading is never cloying.
My one question is whether, having struggled – and failed – to get his novel finished and then published in his lifetime, “The Leopard” should become a success posthumously. This felt a little like tying a loose end for the sake of it. Surely the book would have a more ‘Everyman’ quality – especially for would-be writers! – if the novel had never been published? Don’t most people die with at least one dream unfulfilled – and which therefore never will be?
But maybe that would have been just too downbeat…