Timpanelli offers two fairy-tale fictions that hold few surprises in outcome but offer pleasure along the way. Why does the...

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SOMETIMES THE SOUL: Two Novellas of Sicily

Timpanelli offers two fairy-tale fictions that hold few surprises in outcome but offer pleasure along the way. Why does the beautiful young woman in ""A Knot of Tears,"" whom we discover to be the Baronessa Costanza Patané, close herself up with only her housekeeper Agata in the old house in Palermo called the Green Palace? ""Of course,"" thinks Agata, ""she understood if the lady wanted to be unattached, but to live in a closed house--that was too strange really."" No more strange, though, than a sailor named Edmundo passing by with a parrot on his shoulder, the parrot flying into Costanza's window, and then the sailor himself (arriving to fetch the bird) becoming a guest and telling a deterring fairy-tale each time a hired actress appears at the door in an attempt to lure Costanza out and into the clutches of an unscrupulous gentleman. Who will prevail, tale-teller or unscrupulous gentleman? Will the good sailor Edmundo prove to be a prince in disguise? And will . . .? Even more fairy tale--like than the first novella, ""Rusina, Not Quite in Love"" tells of its eponymous heroine's Cinderella-sufferings under the terrors of two vile sisters--but then of her being sent, in exchange for cancellation of a huge debt owed by her father, to live at the mysteriously beautiful estate of the creditor, where she will discover--""the ugliest man I had ever seen. . . ."" Again, will the repulsive but extraordinarily rich Signure Sebastiano remain what he seems? And what is he, really, after all? Amid lush and yet realistic imagery both of nature and of art, Rusina--herself, with pen and brush, becoming an artist of nature--may or may not find out the answers. She will even go to a ball at one point, yet nevertheless ""The stories,"" she tells us, ""are simple but not so simple."" Pleasant--and maybe even deep--revisitations of fairy-tale symbol and romance.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0375707220

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998