A small unintentional love story invested with so much depth, understanding, and poetry that it becomes profound. Marvelous details, thoughts, and feelings… insights go far beyond the complexities of the historical moment, and even the understanding of the soul of Sicily. The Leopard rises from the portrait of a single man and his immediate family to become a tapestry of life, love, suffering, and death for us all.
Don Fabrizio wonders how the coming unification of Italy (in the 1860s) will affect his life, his family, and their place in the world. His nephew, Tancredi, a poor boy he has taken under his wing, goes off to join the invaders who have come to bring The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies into the fold of the newly united Italy. Don Fabrizio knows better than to resist.
The Don’s daughter, Concetta, is in love with Tancredi. Still, before she can win him, he falls for a much greater beauty, Angelica, the daughter of the local mayor who, in his own clever way, has amassed quite a fortune during this time of revolution. When they marry, Tancredi’s financial safety is secured, and for herself, Angelina gains nobility.
We see the love blossom through the watchful and philosophical eyes of the Don… he falls in love with Angelica a little himself. Tancredi and the young woman marry. We understand that a certain selfishness drives them both. And yet they survive, as does the Don for many years, as does Concetta hardened, eventually becoming very cold, living with her sisters as spinsters long after the Don, Tancredi, and so many others have passed. The women put their efforts into buying relics, most of which will later be discarded by an emissary of the church as false and useless.
The author, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, was a Sicilian prince who dreamed for most of his adult life of writing a novel about his great grandfather, who lived at the time of the Garibaldi Revolution. Lampedusa did not begin the work until he was in his 60s and died shortly after completing it. Today, it is considered a classic of Italian Literature.