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Francesca Allegri cover

 

Francesca Allegri


Francesca Allegri
was a finalist for the 2013 National Indie Excellence Award in Historical Fiction

 

10 February, Anno Domini 1652.

By these, the first words I write, I am become Francesca Allegri – writer, thinker, explorer after truth; a transfiguration from timid sparrow to bold she-philosopher. Being in a choosing mood, and sadly unconstrained by living relatives – except for my uncle, of course – I could choose the maiden name of my poor mother of loving memory, namely Breasiac, a noble family in Aquilac, near Tolosa, where I spent many happy days of my childhood.

However, I loved my father dearly and it was he who honored me with the name Allegri. And there is my uncle, Gregorio Allegri, the famed composer and maestro di cappella at the Sistine Chapel who, until my unfortunate marriage, had cared for me ever since Papa and Mamma were gone. He, too, must be honored.

So, Allegri it is. But mostly in honor of Papa.

—From the novel

Description

Francesca Allegri – the first story published in the Paratge Saga – is set in the turbulent 17th century, a time of devastating wars, sublime art and music, and a revolution in how people thought about themselves and their world.

Orphaned at 14 when her parents become victims of religious violence – the circumstances of which she struggles to repress by busying her mind writing a personal journal – Francesca seeks refuge with her uncle, the noted composer Gregorio Allegri, in Rome. An insatiable student, she is mentored by her uncle and by Athanasius Kircher, a leading intellectual of the time.

Though most women in the 17th century are suppressed, Francesca is by no means that type of woman, for she soon has an education equal to any man of the age – knowledge she will use to challenge the Vatican.

The pope, considering Allegri’s motet “Miserere” an exclusive treasure of the church, threatens dire consequences for anyone who dares smuggle the score out of the Vatican. But Francesca defies that ban, pitting herself against the highest powers of Rome.

She also defies her abusive husband by posing nude for the artist Paolo della Luna. They soon fall in love, and she flees Rome with Paolo and a smuggled copy of the “Miserere.” They are pursued across Europe by thugs sent from Rome to recover the score.

While on the lam Francesca further inflames the Vatican by authoring a book, even more heretical than Galileo, questioning the Church’s view of the world. Now, if they succeed in capturing her, a cell in the Inquisitorial prison awaits … and possible burning at the stake.

Francesca Allegri is a novel about a woman whose faith is shattered by the evil she sees in the world and her unflinching efforts to find a better way... and to finally face up to what happened to her family. Her story transports the reader from the opulence of Rome to the glittering court of Louis XIV and throughout 17th century Europe – Florence, Milan, Avignon, Toulouse, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Dresden, Frieburg – and ultimately to the mysterious island of Malta.

Although cast in the 17th century, the story explores the issues of religious fundamentalism and violence, creationism and atheism, science and faith, that are so relevant to our own times.

Reader's Guide for Francesca Allegri  • Performance of Allegri's "Miserere"

Praise for Francesca Allegri

Reader Reviews

"I've just finished reading Francesca Allegri. 17th century Europe and in particular Italy is a favourite period of mine. My undergrad studies were textile design and sculpturing and I've spent a lot of time n Italy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the problem of being an educated woman during that period and applauded her reaction to being silenced!! You must have had a wonderful time travelling to research the story."

"A book to share with others. Francesca Allegri is a book that I want to share. The author creates and defines characters with clarity and environments that are detailed without being to descriptive. I had a feeling that when I wan't reading that the book was going on without me. The author capture the historical bacround that enriched this reader's experience... yes, that's the word... this book was an experience for me. One I recommend for others to share."

Past Praise for Norm Gautreau

“ ... absorbing, moving and thoughtful … rich in the qualities of character and setting that allow the reader to enter into the lives and moral dilemmas he portrays.”

The Historical Novels Review

  “... [Gautreau has] a strong eye for detailed atmosphere ... the characters are wonderfully rendered.”

Publisher’s Weekly

  “...stands out for [his] ability to bring both place and character to life for the reader.”

Massachusetts Center for the Book