Frances Minto Elliot has written quite the tour-de-farce in her book, The Italians: A Novel, which takes place in the 19th Century.
The characters ooze humor, gossip, jealousy, and all the emotions that the elite might feel for themselves and for others. Elliot exhibits excellent detail in her word images, and the reader almost feels as if they are there, in the midst of the setting. The architectural imagery is magnificent, as are the details of the clothes of the time period, the street scenes and the dynamics within the social strata.
The celebratory events are written in such minute detail, I was almost breathless reading about them. One can imagine the time period in its fullest, the elaborate dresses and costumes, the scents of the magnificently prepared foods, the uplifting music, the holiday spirit that filled the streets, the loud chatter, the hustle and bustle of it all, and the joyful dancing and prancing. And, one can also vision the hillside mansions, overlooking the village, and the poor neighborhoods nestled within the environment.
The social aspects of the book are written with bits of humor, yet the reader knows how the elite truly feel about the lower class. There is a love-hate relationship between them. Social stigmas abound.
I felt as if I was traveling in Italy, through the fabulous imagery that Elliot presents the reader, from one locale to the next. Within the realm of the streets and architectural wonders lies histories that go back hundreds of years, if not thousands. And, the citizens, themselves, are part of the history that the author presents the reader.
Although a historical novel, it reads like a work of non-fiction. From glorious wonders to the varied classes and events, I enjoyed reading The Italians: A Novel, by Minto Elliot.