"The Leopard" by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa is the Newberry selection for January. I'm working to keep ahead of my book club reading. The book starts in 1860 in Sicily with the introduction of the Prince. This is when Sicily was not united with the rest of Italy. Against the backdrop of the reunification movement, the Prince and his family live their lives. They travel to their different homes, meet with friends, learn of new rivals and plan weddings.
"The Leopard" will be a good book group book. I have a feeling that the person who will be leading the discussion in January will be able to provide the historical context of this story. From what I gather, Sicily has long considered itself different from Italy. A co-worker who recently visited there said there is a modern day movement for Sicily to secede.
Even if you don't know the history of the story, this book gives you a lot to digest. You get a glimpse into land ownership and the old money class v. the new class that will scrape and plot to better themselves. I enjoyed the women in the book who display a lot of passion. The scene where the Prince is near the end of his life is so powerful and moving. I wonder why the author did not end the story there but continued on with another look at the two main women in the story. Is it some type of symbolism to show the change in the country? I'm not sure but I am sure that the discussion in January will illuminate some of the many layers in this book. A good choice if you have not read much by Italian authors or about Italy.