Lampedusa by Steven Price
In the Sicily of the '50s, still haunted by memories of Fascism and the war, Giuseppe Tomasi, the last Prince of Lampedusa, struggles to complete the novel that will be his lasting legacy, The Leopard. In 1943, an Allied bomb destroyed the Lampedusa palace in Palermo; in 1955, Giuseppe Tomasi is diagnosed with advanced emphysema. Shortly after, profoundly aware of his mortality, he begins work on a novel, imagining the life of his great-grandfather Don Giulio, astronomer prince and head of the family at the time of the Risorgimento.
Giuseppe Tomasi is a veteran of the previous war, while his wife Alessandra - 'Licy' - a Baltic German aristocrat, now lives in exile, after her native Latvia was absorbed into the Soviet Union. The childless couple are survivors of a vanishing world of European aristocracy, living in the present yet profoundly aware of the past. Steven Price takes us into the mind of the writer, his memories of war and loss, his complex relationships with his family, and inhabits the heart of a man facing down the end of his life and the end of his line, struggling to make something of lasting worth while there is still time.
Achingly haunting and beautifully conceived, Steven Price's Lampedusa tells the intensely moving story of one man's awakening to the possibilities of life, as he nears its end.