THE STONE BOUDOIR is a wonderful title for a book about Sicily, because Sicily is mountainous, and stony. And the people not only live in stone buildings redolent of history, or even caves, they have a quality of stony silence about matters which it is best to be silent.
In this book, Theresa Maggio, who is of Sicilian descent, takes us to her favorite hill towns. They have names such as Polizzi Generosa, Borgo Catena, Geraci Siculo. The highlight of the book is her description of the Feast of Sant’Agata in Catania. Every year on February 4 and 5, in honor of her martyrdom, the men of Catania pull her relics through the streets, which includes a jewel-encrusted crown given to her by Richard the Lionheart, an enormous effigy, and several 15-foot towers to light the way.
I read this book because I wanted to try and understand Sicily. And I was not disappointed. Maggio has a sharp eye for the telling detail, and a lyric prose style that immerses you in the fabric of life there. The only reason I didn’t give this book five stars is because I objected to some personal complaints that found their way into this book. Which was a pity.