Official Review: The Greatest Treason by Fiorentino Ferri

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Julie Green
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Official Review: The Greatest Treason by Fiorentino Ferri

Post by Julie Green » 09 Sep 2018, 17:48

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Greatest Treason" by Fiorentino Ferri.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Travelling from Scotland, Giovanni Bartolomeo hopes to start a new life in his father's ancestral village in the tranquil setting of rural Italy. Giovanni's family history is anything but tranquil, however. Giovanni's sister, Lucrezia, was murdered by rampaging soldiers during the war and, due to the manner of her death, Lucrezia is being considered as a possible case for beatification. After spending time studying at a seminary, Giovanni takes up the role of parish priest at Collaquila, an impoverished village in the mountains.

All goes well until Giovanni comes to blows with Raffaele Staffieri, a local resident who has also spent time in Scotland, and who had clashed with Giovanni's father during the war. Enter Father Fiachre Fahy from Ireland, tasked by the Cardinal to investigate whether Lucrezia is worthy of being put forward for canonisation.

The Greatest Treason by Fiorentino Ferri is beautifully told. The language is rich, colourful and textured. In one scene, we bump into a herd of tintinnabulating goats as our hero Giovanni enters the village of Collaquila. Elsewhere, we meet a monk described as smelling of onions and mothballs. However, my favourite scene in the book revolves around a celebratory dinner party; its description is an absolute triumph of storytelling. We can see the huge banqueting table with legs that are a source of sustenance to woodworm and local gossips. We can hear the garrulous guests conversing about the quality of the wine being served and we can almost taste the mounds of gnocchi as they are being brought to the table. Furthermore, we are made privy to the thoughts of tactile pleasures on the minds of some of the less scrupled guests.

I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. While I appreciated the beauty of the descriptions, I would have enjoyed the book more with the benefit of a family tree. It was challenging to follow the links between the various families and to decipher the trail of their historical connections. The intricacies of Catholic catechism posed yet another barrier to clarity. On a more basic level, my lack of familiarity with Italian names may have been another reason for my inability to follow what was happening. Whatever the reason, I had to focus quite diligently in order not to lose the thread of the plot. There are also a few too many grammatical errors for the book to warrant a four star rating.

This book will appeal to readers of historical fiction. It will also appeal to people who enjoy reading stories about different cultures and religions. It is not a light read, but it is certainly worthwhile for those wishing to put in the effort.

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Post by Debjani Ghosh » 19 Sep 2018, 23:09

It is not a light read, but it is certainly worthwhile for those wishing to put in the effort.
I do not shy away from books that warrant a challenge to read but if the effort goes into keeping track of who is who rather than getting immersed in the plot, then it becomes cumbersome for me. Hence, I will skip this one. Thanks for the honest review!

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Post by Kajori50 » 20 Sep 2018, 14:46

This seems like a challenging read. However, the historical premise and the myriad flavours depicted in the book wins me over.

Thank you for the amazing review.

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Post by Julie Green » 21 Sep 2018, 12:41

Debjani Ghosh wrote:
19 Sep 2018, 23:09
It is not a light read, but it is certainly worthwhile for those wishing to put in the effort.
I do not shy away from books that warrant a challenge to read but if the effort goes into keeping track of who is who rather than getting immersed in the plot, then it becomes cumbersome for me. Hence, I will skip this one. Thanks for the honest review!
Yes it was just a bit distracting keeping track of the names. Thanks for commenting.

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Post by Julie Green » 21 Sep 2018, 12:42

Kajori50 wrote:
20 Sep 2018, 14:46
This seems like a challenging read. However, the historical premise and the myriad flavours depicted in the book wins me over.

Thank you for the amazing review.
Ah thanks for your kind comments. Yes, it's challenging but actually quite a rewarding read.

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Post by CommMayo » 21 Sep 2018, 14:38

I think I would be lost with all of the Catholic-ness of the book, but it does sound like a really interesting premise.

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Post by jcoad » 21 Sep 2018, 14:44

I think "tintinnabulating" may be illegal in 3 countries. I like the concept of the book and the settings as I love to read about other countries and cultures. Sounds like it may be a bit confusing in places. I think I will read this one. Thanks for the great review!

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Post by FictionLover » 21 Sep 2018, 20:26

The Greatest Treason by Fiorentino Ferri is beautifully told. The language is rich, colourful and textured. In one scene, we bump into a herd of tintinnabulating goats as our hero Giovanni enters the village of Collaquila. Elsewhere, we meet a monk described as smelling of onions and mothballs. However, my favourite scene in the book revolves around a celebratory dinner party; its description is an absolute triumph of storytelling.
I love that, "a triumph of story telling". I will have to put it on my shelf for a vacation read.

:tiphat:
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Post by LaurenHaupt » 21 Sep 2018, 22:08

I like the plot. I love that there is so much detail in the book. I'll keep this story in mind. Thank you for the review.
:techie-studyingbrown:

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Post by Julie Green » 22 Sep 2018, 04:09

CommMayo wrote:
21 Sep 2018, 14:38
I think I would be lost with all of the Catholic-ness of the book, but it does sound like a really interesting premise.
Yes, it was a bit opaque in places but a very good read. Thanks for your comment.

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Post by Julie Green » 22 Sep 2018, 04:15

jcoad wrote:
21 Sep 2018, 14:44
I think "tintinnabulating" may be illegal in 3 countries. I like the concept of the book and the settings as I love to read about other countries and cultures. Sounds like it may be a bit confusing in places. I think I will read this one. Thanks for the great review!
I did not know that! I love reading about different cultures too and this book fits that bill. Thanks for commenting.

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Post by Julie Green » 22 Sep 2018, 04:27

FictionLover wrote:
21 Sep 2018, 20:26
The Greatest Treason by Fiorentino Ferri is beautifully told. The language is rich, colourful and textured. In one scene, we bump into a herd of tintinnabulating goats as our hero Giovanni enters the village of Collaquila. Elsewhere, we meet a monk described as smelling of onions and mothballs. However, my favourite scene in the book revolves around a celebratory dinner party; its description is an absolute triumph of storytelling.
I love that, "a triumph of story telling". I will have to put it on my shelf for a vacation read.

:tiphat:
Thank you! :D

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Post by Julie Green » 22 Sep 2018, 06:40

LaurenHaupt wrote:
21 Sep 2018, 22:08
I like the plot. I love that there is so much detail in the book. I'll keep this story in mind. Thank you for the review.
Thanks for your comment! :D

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Post by Dusamae » 23 Sep 2018, 12:53

I love some historical fiction books and from your review, this is probably one I would like. I love good descriptions in a book and other reading about other cultures.

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Post by Julie Green » 23 Sep 2018, 13:51

Dusamae wrote:
23 Sep 2018, 12:53
I love some historical fiction books and from your review, this is probably one I would like. I love good descriptions in a book and other reading about other cultures.
It is quite a rewarding book to read, and certainly an interesting insight into Italian rural societies. Thank you for commenting.

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