In Sicily by Norman Lewis

4.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Sicily is an island that Norman Lewis grew to love after he first visited there during the war. He married the daughter of a Sicilian Mafiosi and returned many times over a sixty-year period. The mafia was the theme of his first book on the island and this one is dedicated to a journalist, Marcello Cimino, killed by a bomb. This book is an account of his return to the island in the late 1990s and is partly a love letter to the place and partly a lament to the current state of affairs. He nostalgically looks back to the past and happy times spent on there, revisits old haunts and catches up with friends all over the island.

At this time the mafia is still a significant force in the island and by travelling around with the locals, he comes across their nefarious activities. However this is a time of change; their iron grip, along with that of the church and landowners under the feudal system is beginning to lessen. But if you know where to look, you can still see ancient rituals that predate even the Roman period.

There is something about Lewis’s writing that makes this a please to read. He has a falcon’s eye for detail and has the language to paint an evocative scene of the places he visits in just a few sentences. Kind of wish I had read The Honoured Society before this, but I still have that treat for another day.

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  1. booker talk

    I wonder if he mentions one insight about Sicilian attitudes that I came across in our guidebook a few years ago. It said Sicilian people have little regard for rules or laws – they view them as ‘suggestions.’ An insight which explained why we would regularly meet people driving the wrong way down a one way street, or parking where there was a no parking sign etc. All these signs/rules were merely suggestions….

    • admin

      As I say, rules are there to be made not obeyed. He doesn’t specifically mention that, but you get that gist from the prose and the way that he knows the islanders so well. We were there last week and having driven around some of the island, I can attest to their very different interpretation of the traffic laws…

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