THE MILL ON THE PO by Riccardo Bacchelli


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An epic novel translated from the Italian- and carrying over into English its robust quality, -- a, vivid in characterization and detail, a satisfyingly rich novel of conspicuous literary flavor. This is a story of the seething years following Waterloo, when Italy, sick of foreign rule and recalling the chimerical freedom Napoleon had given them banded in the ""risorgimento"", that ultimately brought them unity. Against a tapesty of period is told the tale of Lazzaro Scacerni, sapper in Napoleon's army, and of the chance by which a fortune in stolen Spanish church jewels fell into his hands -- and of the gaudy Saint Michael's Mill, finest floating mill on the Po, built from the proceeds. He wins the diminutive blonde daughter of a family living in a ruined palace- and in the midst of a flood a runty son is born to them, a son destined to no good. Ridden by an inherited love of acreage, and with a natural talent for being on the wrong side of the law, the boy nicknamed the Were Rabbit, becomes involved in the mesh of smuggling for the Austrians. His parents dead, he marries Cecilia, and her nobility despite the odds, ensures the mill and its future, for their children, while their father disintegrates. The author has a rare gift for creation of full bodied characters, peopling a rich canvas:- bandits, smugglers, wandering soldiers, customs officials, clericals, apprentices, an old midwife. The story is played out amid fat years and lean, recurrent floods, famines and plagues, periodic cycles of devastation -- Italy in the growing pains of revolution and rebirth. Here we have in one volume the first and second of a triology, the third part due in 1951.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1950
Publisher: Pantheon