Apennine Mountains, Italy, 1965
Leonora Bacchetti was once a happy child. But at the age of seventeen she has become a wild and rebellious young woman who leaves her parents in despair when she runs away from home with a group of itinerant travellers.
In the eyes of their friends and neighbours in the tight-knit village of Montacciolo, her parents’ good name is ruined.
At first, Leonora keeps in touch with her mother and father, sending letters and postcards from different countries until, very abruptly, her correspondence stops. The girl has vanished.
Vague, unreliable rumours of her fate abound, but newspaper appeals, police and private investigations reveal nothing.
Until, eighteen years later, in the midst of a snowstorm, a stranger from Sardinia knocks on the door of Leonora’s father’s little mountain house.
Now a widower, he has come to terms with never knowing what happened to his daughter. But everything changes when the unexpected visitor claims that he has new information.
The two men quickly bond and gradually begin to piece together the truth about Lenora, provoking deep questions about her life and how they have lived their own – questions about love, loyalty, honesty and what being a family really means.
The Sardinian Story is a novel of exquisite power and deep emotion which will live long in the memories of its readers.
Sit back and enjoy as Francesca shares an extract today.
*****beginning of extract*****
This extract is taken from Chapter 1. Dante Bacchetti is going through his daily routine in his tiny house on a mountainside. It’s cold outside and he’s hungry, and he is preparing his meal when he is interrupted by a knock at the door. A visitor at this time is a huge shock…
Hunger was making his belly rumble, so Dante went to peel two potatoes to add to the soup. Always better to put them in near the end, or they’d disintegrate. He set the peel aside to give to Gineprina later.
As he was stirring the pot he heard a noise coming from the porch where he stored his firewood. Dante stopped and listened. Silence, then scratching and shuffling. Something was out there – a wild cat, or a fox maybe. Perhaps the door had blown open.
When he pricked up his ears again, he heard a cough, and it was definitely human. But who on earth could it be on a wretched night like this? The snow was chest-deep and the track to his house was impassable. He’d been marooned for over a month.
Dante climbed into his sheepskin and grabbed the poker from beside the fire, just in case the intruder was not friendly in nature. He put his ear to the door and heard the cough again.
‘Who is it?’ he called out and a deep, trembling voice said, ‘Please, let me in.’
Gripping the poker in his hand, Dante tentatively pulled back the bolt and opened the door just a crack. Standing in his porch was one of the most enormous men he had ever seen. The giant was hunched over and shivering and dressed in an inappropriate coat – the oiled, waterproof kind one might wear out at sea, not half way up a mountain. His eyebrows, eyelashes and nostril hair were frosted. His nose and ears were so red that they glowed.
‘Are you Dante Bacchetti?’ Asked the big man through his chattering teeth. His accent had a hint of foreignness about it.
‘Who wants to know?’
‘My name is Jubanne Melis Puddu.’
‘That’s an unusual name.
‘Not unusual where I come from.’
‘And where might that be?’
‘What’s a Sardinian doing in the Apennine Mountains on a fiendish night like this?’
‘I’m here to see Dante Bacchetti.’
The huge man stepped closer and Dante shrank back, tightening his grip on the poker and shielding himself with the door, although in truth he did not really feel threatened. This stranger, despite his gargantuan size, did not seem menacing. If anything, he appeared nervous, and half frozen to death.
The Sardinian said, ‘I wrote to you about your daughter.’
‘All the correspondence I ever receive, with the exception of letters from the tax office, is about my daughter. You’ll have to be more specific than that.’ The jaded tone of Dante’s voice gave the impression that whatever this visitor had to say, the old man had probably heard it before. Over the years he’d encountered more than his fair share of fantasists and crackpots, all keen to share their fanciful theories about Leonora’s fate.
Jubanne Melis Puddu gave Dante a quizzical look. ‘If one of my children had disappeared and someone knew something, I’d want to know. Don’t you want to hear what I have to say? I’ve come a long way to talk to you.’‘Do you know where my daughter is?’
‘No, but I know where she was.’
Dante loosened his grip on the poker, then said, without disguising his irritation, ‘Well, I’m not sure how that’s going to be of any use, but I don’t have the heart to send you away in this weather, so I suppose you’d better come in.’
*****end of extract*****
About Francesca Scanacapra –
Her adult life has been somewhat nomadic with periods spent living in Italy, England, France, Senegal and Spain. She describes herself as ‘unconventional’ and has pursued an eclectic mixture of career paths – from working in translation, the fitness industry, education and even several years as a builder. In 2021 she returned to her native country and back to her earliest roots to pursue her writing career full time.
Francesca now resides permanently in rural Lombardy in the house built by her great-grandfather which was the inspiration for her Paradiso Novels: Paradiso, Return to Paradiso and The Daughter of Paradiso. Her novel The Lost Boy of Bolognawas also published by Silvertail Books.
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