By Barry Unsworth
Barry Unsworth, the Booker Prize-winning writer of Sacred Hunger and the bestselling Morality Play, returns in most sensible shape with this worldly, bittersweet comedy of manners and morals set in a single of Italy's so much glorious--and traditionally treacherous--regions.
Golden Umbria is domestic to breathtaking surroundings and nice paintings; it's also the place Hannibal and his invading band of Carthaginians ambushed and slaughtered a Roman legion, and the place the neighborhood place-names nonetheless converse of that bloodshed.
Unsworth's modern invaders comprise the vegetables, a retired American couple looking serenity one of the Umbrian hills, who're bilked out in their reductions by way of the corrupt English "building expert" Stan Blemish; the Chapmans, a British estate speculator and his spouse, whose dispute with their pals over a wall escalates right into a feud of approximately medieval proportions; Anders Ritter, a German haunted by means of the half his father performed in a mass killing of Italian hostages in Rome in the course of the moment international battle; and Fabio and Arturo, a homosexual couple who, looking for peace and self-sufficiency, locate treachery as an alternative. And on the heart of these types of webs of deceit and greed is the crafty legal professional Mancini, satisfied to assist the disputants--and to take advantage of to the fullest the religion that those "innocents abroad" have positioned in him.
Mining his genius for old narrative in addition to his present for sharp-eyed portraiture and deliciously droll storytelling, Barry Unsworth has written a wonderful entertainment. After Hannibal is one among this striking author's best creations.
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How mine skipped like a rabbit, and how his thudded, a hammer against cloth. We lay there with our bodies touching, and, as I shook, a powerful knowledge took hold. He had done this thing to me and I had lived. That was all. I was still breathing. I heard his heart. I smelled his breath. The dark earth surrounding us smelled like what it was, moist dirt where worms and animals lived their daily lives. I could have yelled for hours. I knew he was going to kill me. I did not realize then that I was an animal already dying.