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@Download Epub á Le notti al Santa Caterina é ile il buio sta calando sul Santa Caterina a Ferrara, uno dei conventi pi rinomati della citt che, con le elargizioni di ricche e nobili famiglie e i frutti del vasto podere ritagliato all interno delle sue mura, provvede al sostentamento di un elevato numero di suore, otto o nove postulanti, alcune convittrici e venticinque converse Come ogni sera, la sorella guardiana fa il giro dei corridoi misurando lo scorrere del tempo fino a mattutino, due ore dopo la mezzanotte una sera particolarmente agitata questa I singhiozzi della novizia appena arrivata si odono per tutto il convento stata ribattezzata Serafina e avr quindici o sedici anni Appartiene a un illustre famiglia milanese Per dimostrare il proprio attaccamento alla citt di Ferrara, con la quale intrattiene affari lucrosi, il padre ha deciso, come recita la sua nobile missiva, di donare all insigne monastero la sua figlia illibata, nutrita dall amor di Dio e con una voce da usignolo In realt , ha ubbidito a un comportamento diventato legge nell Europa della seconda met del sedicesimo secolo, in cui le doti si sono fatte cos dispendiose da costringere l aristocrazia a maritare una sola figlia e a spedire le altre in convento La giovane, avvenente Serafina fa parte appunto di quella met delle nobildonne milanesi costrette a prendere i voti, non necessariamente di buon grado Mentre la novizia strepita nella sua cella, in un altra stanza suor Benedicta sta componendo il graduale per l Epifania Le melodie nella sua testa sono cos prepotenti che non pu evitare di cantarle ad alta voce Nessuno, per , la sgrider all indomani, poich le sue composizioni fanno onore al convento e attirano i benefattori In una cella non lontana suor Perseveranza asservita, invece, alla musica della sofferenza Sta stringendo con forza una cintura irta di chiodi che si spingono a fondo nella carne Le sue grida, in cui la sofferenza si mescola col godimento, si confondono con i singhiozzi di Serafina Nella stanza sopra l infermeria, infine, suor Zuana, la monaca speziale, prega a modo suo, scrutando le pagine del grande libro delle erbe di Brunfels Figlia unica di un cultore dell arte medica, lei che accoglie le fanciulle che entrano in convento lei che si recher tra breve nella cella di Serafina per somministrarle uno dei suoi miracolosi intrugli e calmarla Tra le due giovani donne si stabilir un rapporto speciale che non impedir , tuttavia, che lo scompiglio, generato dall arrivo di Serafina, si diffonda per tutto il convento come un fuoco che minaccia di inghiottirlo We women, you know, are pretty strong This novel shows us again, the truth of our lives by telling us a story A story of making the best of it, of finding grace, even within unchosen boundaries Did you know that half of all noble women in 16th century Italy were forced into nunneries because their families could afford only one lavish dowery In her author s notes, Sarah Dunant quotes one such woman, a nun form Santi Naborre e Felice convent in Bolgna , written to the pope Many of us are sh We women, you know, are pretty strong This novel shows us again, the truth of our lives by telling us a story A story of making the best of it, of finding grace, even within unchosen boundaries Did you know that half of all noble women in 16th century Italy were forced into nunneries because their families could afford only one lavish dowery In her author s notes, Sarah Dunant quotes one such woman, a nun form Santi Naborre e Felice convent in Bolgna , written to the pope Many of us are shut up against our will and deprived of all contact with the outside world Living with such strictness and abandoned by everyone, we have only hell in this world and the next Within the high walls of such a nunnery, a young girl with the voice of an angel arrives, determined to escape How she interacts with the other women there, those charged with her care, those charged with helping her find acceptance and usefulness as a bride of Christ, those charged with healing her, and those charged with adminstering her less substantual but none the less useful dowry, is the bones of the story What is escape really What are the consequences This is a story of love, the love of God and of life, and that deep unconquerable light inside us I found it timeless and compelling Today a woman can be single and have a career and a joyful life During the Victorian era many a maiden aunt was taken in as helper in the homes of better off relatives But in the 16th century, we find that many aristocratic Italian families, only being able to afford one dowry, would force one girl into marriage and dispatch the other young women to convents At first I found Sarah Dunant s Sacred Hearts claustrophobic it all takes place behind convent walls and uninviting I so enjoyed I Today a woman can be single and have a career and a joyful life During the Victorian era many a maiden aunt was taken in as helper in the homes of better off relatives But in the 16th century, we find that many aristocratic Italian families, only being able to afford one dowry, would force one girl into marriage and dispatch the other young women to convents At first I found Sarah Dunant s Sacred Hearts claustrophobic it all takes place behind convent walls and uninviting I so enjoyed In the Company of the Courtesan that I was rooting for Sacred Hearts to unfold and wrap me up And Dunant pulled it off Her novel of convent politics, of trust and betrayal, of true believers and those who make the convent into the only life they can slowly worked its way into my awareness The protagonist is fairly interesting, and we wonder will she find a way to escape this life, or will she wind up being an anorexic religious zealot But the women we really watch and question are Suora Zuana, the dispensary mistress and tender healer, and Madre Chiara, the abbess who makes convent politics into a blood sport Thank you, goodreads.com and Random House for including Sacred Hearts as part of the goodreads giveaway I expected a book about sixteenth century convent life and its nuns to be boring What I did not expect was Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant her third and probably her best novel set in the Italian Renaissance following In the Company of a Courtesan and The Birth of Venus I was instantly captivated by the sisters of Santa Caterina, a fictional convent comprised of a group of highly sophisticated women as embroiled in politics, scandal, and deception as their courtly counterparts Dunant achiev I expected a book about sixteenth century convent life and its nuns to be boring What I did not expect was Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant her third and probably her best novel set in the Italian Renaissance following In the Company of a Courtesan and The Birth of Venus I was instantly captivated by the sisters of Santa Caterina, a fictional convent comprised of a group of highly sophisticated women as embroiled in politics, scandal, and deception as their courtly counterparts Dunant achieves for nuns what Ken Follett did for monks in his epic Pillars of the Earth.This novel opens with the newest novice sixteen year old former noble, Serafina More rebellious teen then a dutiful daughter, Serafina is too expensive and too much of a liability to marry off, so she is passed over in favor of her younger sister, and forced to take the veil This practice Dunant notes is very common though cruel Serafina is highly valued to the convent both for her beautiful singing voice, and the generous dowry her family has promised However the only vow Serfina makes is to herself promising to escape at her earliest opportunity Serafina is contrasted with Zuana, a once defiant and now compliant nun Zuana takes Serafina under her wing to try and ease Serafina s transition from court to convent Both women soon become embroiled in the shifting alliances of the convent and rapidly changing religious atmosphere which could forever alter Santa Caterina as they know it Dunant s sumptuous rendition bestows life into the convent and the time The setting becomes an examination for the roles of women The convent offered a surprising amount of freedom and protection for those within its walls a truth which Dunant does not fail to capture The plot is secondary to the historical context of the book, but still remains engaging The only disappointment is the story s ending which not only borders on blaspheme but also seems out of the character for the women as the reader knows them And so, I ll be recommending it to everyone except my intensely Catholic grandmother Still, Sacred Hearts is an obviously well researched and breath taking work of Historical Fiction This book has been quite a pleasant surprise The setting of this nice historical novel is a convent in the elegant and pleasant city of Ferrara, during the Italian Renaissance not long after the Council of Trent Ferrara is unfairly neglected as a tourist destination in many tourist routes, which is quite baffling as the city is very charming, a real place that has proudly retained a genuine sense of its medieval and renaissance past I visited the city in my latest trip to Europe, and it was a This book has been quite a pleasant surprise The setting of this nice historical novel is a convent in the elegant and pleasant city of Ferrara, during the Italian Renaissance not long after the Council of Trent Ferrara is unfairly neglected as a tourist destination in many tourist routes, which is quite baffling as the city is very charming, a real place that has proudly retained a genuine sense of its medieval and renaissance past I visited the city in my latest trip to Europe, and it was a nice aesthetic and cultural experience this was also one of the reasons why I was initially attracted to this book I started reading the book with some misgivings, as I have encountered, in the past, so many similar novels written with an almost complete misunderstanding and a cheap trivializing of the complex political and social cultural setting of Italian Renaissance and of convent life during this fascinating historical period.The author has, on the contrary, actually made a real effort to investigate the historical and geographical background of her novel, and the result is a credible and interesting narrative, where power intrigues and tensions of life in an enclosed environment are played against the fluid cultural and political backdrop of Post reformation Italy Even the history and architecture of this fictitious convent are drawn heavily from the still existing enclosed Benedictine community of Sant Antonio in Polesine in Ferrara The author even bothered to research the peculiar weather and climate of this city, so characteristic of the Po Valley, and that local inhabitants, since time immemorial, have learned to hate and love Most characters are depicted with introspection and nuance, their psychological interplay is interesting and only occasionally it degenerates into fluffiness or saccharine romance, and I also appreciated how the author managed to develop, forcefully but with taste and sophistication, a quite clear feminist message the strong, complex, contradictory and fascinating personality of the Abbess is a high point of the entire narrative, and the formidable Suora Umiliana, and Suora Zuana with her love for books and science, are quite remarkable too on the other hand, the character of the novice Serafina is probably the weakest, a spoiled brat in love with her equally forgettable fiance both of them seriously irked methan once And it is a poignant reminder that, even in Europe, and until very recently in historical terms, women did not even begin to have the equality of rights that, to some extent, they now enjoy at least in parts of the world The psychological and material life in the convent are also very nicely portrayed without ever degenerating into the so many cheap clich s that infest so much historical fiction set in medieval renaissance convents illustrating the complex relationship between the religious life and power politics in the outside world, and all of its contradictions, but without degenerating into apologism, nor into cheap anti Catholic railing.3.5 stars rounded up to 4 given that it was better than I feared