The Betrothed

I Promessi Sposi
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Penguin Classics
1840
eBook
720
Italian
Bruce Penman
July 31, 2021 August 9, 2021
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Set in Lombardy during the Spanish occupation of the late 1620s, The Betrothed tells the story of two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia, prevented from marrying by the petty tyrant Don Rodrigo, who desires Lucia for himself. Forced to flee, they are then cruelly separated, and must face many dangers including plague, famine and imprisonment, and confront a variety of strange characters—the mysterious Nun of Monza, the fiery Father Cristoforo and the sinister “Unnamed”—in their struggle to be reunited. A vigorous portrayal of enduring passion, The Betrothed‘s exploration of love, power, and faith presents a whirling panorama of seventeenth-century Italian life and is one of the greatest European historical novels.

“The 19th-century Italian literary classic renowned for its vivid descriptions of the 1630 pestilence that gutted Milan.” —The New York Times

“Compulsory reading for Italian high school students, The Betrothed gives a historically accurate account of the bubonic plague that wiped out a quarter of Milan’s population in 1629-1631.” —Politico

“This is not just a book; it offers consolation to the whole of humanity.” —Giuseppe Verdi


About the book

The Betrothed is the first novel written by an Italian author and is a milestone in our literature. Everyone, or almost everyone, studied this book in high school, especially those who attended a “liceo” (I’m not going to explain the difference among all the high schools we have) or an advanced technical institute (usually in the second grade which is 10th grade for non-Italians).

With Manzoni, Italian fiction adapts to the modern reality already present in France and England for more than a century, thus guaranteeing the return of our literature in Europe after a crisis that lasted more than two centuries.

Two cultural strands converge in The Betrothed: the Lombard Enlightenment which aims to bring the intellectual closer to society and the Romanticism with its attention to national history. Without Manzoni there would have been no history of the novel in Italy.

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Le masque de Nô

Le masque de Nô
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, Book # 1
Gallimard Jeunesse
August 27th 2020
Paperback
416
French
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June 23, 2021 July 11, 2021

The chronicles of maple and cherry tree form a tetralogy set in seventeenth-century Japan. We follow two heroes, Ichirō, a young samurai with a fabulous destiny, and the mysterious Hiinahime, a stranger who hides behind a Nō mask. In the first two volumes the narrator is Ichirō, in the other two it will be the heroine Hiinahime's turn to tell the story. The first volume, entitled The Nō Mask, traces Ichirō's life from childhood to adolescence. Abandoned, Ichirō is raised as a son by an unknown samurai who teaches him the way of the sword. The boy will live a solitary existence in the mountains, in the heart of a wild nature and at the rhythm of the seasons, between moments of bliss and lightheartedness and an apprenticeship that requires perseverance and courage. But one tragic night, Ichirō's life is turned upside down by the attack of shady samurai. Destiny will then take him to Edo (ancient Tokyo), where he will begin performing in kabuki theaters; there he will make his first friendships and meet Hiinahime, the unknown woman with the Nō mask.


About the book

First book in the series set in Edo period Japan (17th century) entitled Les chroniques de l’érable et du cerisier which, from the Italan translation (sorry don’t know any French) should be The Chronicles of Maple and Cherry tree, a very intriguing title. We are in the period in which the Tokugawa family holds the maximum political and military power in Japan, a period of isolation and persecution of Christians.

The book begins with a Master, a former samurai, who finds a child in a biwa shell in the forest near his isolated mountain home. He takes him home and together with the housekeeper he raises him as if he were his son. The latter, Ichirō, is raised with samurai teachings, of which the Master is an expert, until the Master’s past comes knocking on the door of the isolated house and Ichirō is catapulted into ancient Edo (current Tokyo) where, to survive, he has to beg and live on the streets, until he meets a poet who will help him find work. He also discovers the Kabuki theater and thanks to this, he makes his first friends. In Edo he also meets Hiinahime, a girl who hides behind a mask of the Nō theater.

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Descendant of the Crane

Descendant of the Crane
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Albert Whitman & Company
April 9th 2019
Hardcover
416
English
June 14, 2021 June 22, 2021
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Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death... because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.


About the book

Princess Hesina must take over the reins of her father’s kingdom when he suddenly dies. But Hesina saw that gas come out of her father’s body as the doctor performs an autopsy, so it can’t be natural death. Hesina wants the truth, but she must also reign, quell the revolts against soothsayers, banished and exterminated individuals throughout the kingdom, as well as avoid war with her neighbouring kingdom.

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
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Redhook
September 10th 2019
Hardcover
374
English
June 5, 2021 June 13, 2021
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In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.


About the book

1900s, early years, there is a special house in Vermont with so many treasures that they don’t seem of this world. January’s father works for Mr. Locke, a somewhat eccentric collector and she lives in his house. At the age of seven, January finds a door that leads to a parallel world. Our world is full of these doors and January quickly realises that these doors can explain her birth. In fact she is orphaned of a mother or so she thinks. When she finds a little book she realises that she has to find out the truth especially after her father has gone missing.

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The Poppy War

The Poppy War
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, Book # 1
Harper Voyager
May 1st 2018
eBook
531
English
May 29, 2021 June 4, 2021
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When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.


About the book

We follow the story of a war orphan, who despite living in a remote province, Nikan, and despite not having an excellent education, manages to pass a very difficult exam to enter the military academy in the capital. At the academy, however, she clashes with the prejudices of the empire’s elite, boys and girls of her age, but who have studied for years for this very purpose. Obviously not everyone accepts that a simple girl from a peasant province can be better than them. Here, Rin discovers that she has a power that few others have, but will she be able to use it or will it only lead to the destruction of the world?

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