Title: A Sicilian Romance
Author: Ann Radcliffe
Format Read: Kindle
“The Sicilian Romance” by Ann Radcliffe is a gothic romance originally published in 1790. It is the story of the Mazzini family, who, as the novel explains in the opening, had a castle in Sicily. A traveler recounts the tale as he heard it in a miniature prologue that sets the scene quite nicely just before the story begins.
The count Mazzini, owner of the said castle, is a harsh and exacting man who has a beautiful and wicked second wife. He also has two daughters from his first wife, Emily and Julia. “A Sicilian Romance” mostly follows the lovely, angelically good Julia, and her trials and tribulations.
For she wishes to marry the young and earnest Hippolitus de Vereza. And her father, being the villainous, harsh man that he is, has other plans for her. She must marry the Duke de Ludovo, a rich and powerful man, and that is that.
And then there is count Mazzini’s second wife, the seductive, ravishing Maria, who for some reason cannot get Hippolitus to look at her. Naturally, in her grand scheme of things, he must not look at Julia either.
“A Sicilian Romance” is soft and dreamy, and easy to read. Yes, the romance is full of ‘melancholy’, it is full of tears and sorrow and Julia’s goodness. The villains are unquestionably villainous. The heroine has a disposition that is almost too good for the mortal world. There are plots within plots, mysteries in the castle, and picturesque landscapes.
The descriptions in this novel, especially during Julia’s flight from the castle, are vivid and lush. Characters are individual enough, even if their character traits are exaggerated. There is passion and gallantry and secrets. And a great many tears. It does seem that nearly everyone weeps in this novel. They are all very, very emotional souls. The plot is…entertaining, although I confess I did think there were way too many coincidences and chance meetings.
For all that, “A Sicilian Romance” was delightfully refreshing. I especially liked the dreamy quality of the setting and the straightforward storytelling. It does focus heavily on the melancholy, and the romance is a bit much.
But I’m so glad I read it.