Bill Bucko

RAPHAELLA DI PIERO

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Animus vinci non potest, nisi voluntarie.

The spirit cannot be broken unless one wills it so.

Niccolò da Uzzano (1424)

PROLOGUE — DECEMBER 1391

The nurse groaned, thrusting a hand under the child’s shoulders and wrapping her arms around the frail body. She pressed the dark brown curls to her breast, then turned to Messer Buonaccorso, who stood in the doorway.

“Is she alive?”

The old woman nodded, noting the warm breath on her skin and the slow flutter of the eyelids. “She’s only half awake,” she whispered, trembling. “Thank God for that. Whatever she’s heard, or guessed … she mustn’t see … this,” she indicated the body lying on the floor.

“She’ll have to know,” Messer Buonaccorso insisted.

The nurse shrugged.

“Was she here when … it happened?”

“I hope not.”

She stepped over Monna Margherita, who sprawled next to the bed like a rag doll, with dark stains on her nightgown. A dagger lay on the floor next to her.

Messer Buonaccorso set down his candle on a chest of walnut wood. “Give her to me,” he said. “Let me see my granddaughter.”

He took the girl, who stirred and gave a feeble cough. He shook his head, then turned to Monna Clarissa who stood behind him, weeping. “The shame to the family is great. That my own son Piero should do this deed.”

They followed him out the door, through the shadows of the hall.

“I curse him. He was ever a fool who took anger too readily, who believed foul rumors too quickly … Where is he now?”

“He’s fled.”

“Let no one aid him. No one! Or, I swear before God …” He paused as they went out onto the gallery, hunching his shoulders against the chill night air. “Let them put him to the rack and the hoist. And use fire … I say it, though he’s my only son. To slay his wife, like a madman … just because her eyes lit up when dancing with another.”

Monna Clarissa wiped her eyes. “You mustn’t say that.”

“Why not?”

“‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’”

They started down the stairs.

“Isn’t that what our Lord taught?”

He bowed his head.

The Minerbetti coat of arms, three daggers on a shield, was worked into the brickwork above his shoulder. Torches at the end of the courtyard gave light but not color to walls of bare stone. “This foul deed makes me forget myself.”

“You spoke in anger.”

He said nothing.

“Didn’t you, brother? … That’s not like you.”

“It isn’t,” he admitted.

The child stirred in his arms.

“Mama …” came a small, sleepy voice.

“Hush.”

The girl’s lashes fluttered. She rubbed her eyes with a fist.

“Mama?”

He lowered her bare feet onto the pavement, keeping a hand on each shoulder. She stretched her thin bare arms, then slowly gazed around.

“You can’t see her, Raphaella.”

She came fully awake, and whirled on them.

“Mama!”

The girl’s bright curious eyes flashed in the night. She had a high broad forehead and oval face, with thick brown hair spilling over her shoulders, halfway to her waist. She glared, tossing her head, alert and wary.

The nurse stooped down.

“What’d you see?”

“They were shouting ...”

“You went to mama?”

The girl nodded.

“Father ... why’d he run away?”

The adults glanced at each other.

The girl gave a start, then turned to leap up the stairs. The nurse caught her arm.

“Mama!”

“Come here, girl.”

“No!”

“Mind what you’re told,” sighed Messer Buonaccorso.

The girl twisted, struggling to escape, pummeling the nurse with her fists. The nurse lifted her and carried her down to the courtyard.

Her room was small and dark, under the arches.

“What’s she doing out of the nursery?” snapped Monna Clarissa. “You should have watched—”

“I can’t every minute,” the nurse protested.

They stood the girl in the middle of the floor, and lit candles. She jerked away, retreating to a corner.

“Look,” said the nurse.

There was a spot of red on the girl’s nightgown. Messer Buonaccorso started. There was blood on her bare shoulder, too, where the gown slipped down.

Four years old, he thought.

“Change her clothes,” he ordered. “Wash her.”

He put a hand to his heart, and stumbled out to the courtyard.

“Lord, have mercy on us.”

He sat on the stone bench his grandfather had set between the trellis and the well, so many years ago. He wiped his brow ... Poor child ... and poor mother, he thought, mumbling a prayer for the repose of her soul. Forgive her sins, God ... if You can hear me ... and if she had any sins ... she was a kind, sweet-tempered lady, who loved her daughter ... and I—with all my faults!—never once had a harsh word from her ... not from the day she came to my house.

He closed his eyes.

He saw his son, tall, comely, and dull-witted, shallow as the Arno at midsummer, an idler who had never settled down to any purpose in life. He heard the lad’s drunken laughter as he carried his wife across the threshold and kissed her, to the shouts of his companions ...

“Piero,” he whispered.

That had been six years ago.

And since then ... Hadn’t he tried to stay out of their affairs? Hadn’t he told her, when she came to him weeping, that it was her task to please her husband, soothe him and make him gentler?

Shouldn’t he have done more, to prevent this?

He bowed his head.

His eyes were weary, under heavy lids. He was short, thickset, with heavy jowls and coarse features. Often impatient, but seldom angry, he had the weary conviction that life was ruled by men’s foibles, not their minds.

Sons … why are they so different from their fathers? …

He shook his head.

“Brother?”

He looked up, in the moonlight, to find Monna Clarissa standing over him. Her narrow eyes, pinched features and perenially dour expression seemed even more homely than usual.

“What’s to become of the girl?” she demanded.

“I’ll care for her.”

“You?”

“Yes.”

“An old man like you?”

“I … owe it to her.”

“But … you’ve never even liked the child.”

“It’s my duty,” he frowned.

“Haven’t you told me, brother, that you feel empty, inside ... unable to love anyone?”

He nodded.

“Yet ... you still want to do this?”

He got up, with a shake of the head.

“Don’t argue with me.”

He felt the cold in his bones. He turned his back on her and slowly climbed the stone steps to the second floor. Taking an oil lamp, he made his way through the dark hall, circling the long dinner table that lay empty now. His breath came heavily, as his heart pounded in his veins. Monna Margherita’s chamber was in the far wing. The curtains were heavy, the bed wreathed in shadow. The dead woman lay still on the floor. Wearily he stooped, to touch her hand. Not yet cold. With a grunt he lifted her to the bed, folding her arms across her breast. He stared at the crucifix on the wall, then took it down and pressed it into her hands.

“Rest in peace,” he prayed. I wish I could.

Then he picked up the dagger.

It was long and thin, with a silver handle. His own, once, and his father’s, before him. Now it was Piero’s.

He sighed.

He dipped it in a basin, and wiped it. A dark stain remained.

He stumbled back to his room, threw open a chest, lifted out an old cloak, and hid the dagger beneath it. Then he lay on his bed to spend what remained of the night in a fever of grief and shame.

The women rose at dawn to wash Monna Margherita’s body. There was a slash on one forearm, a cut in the left side, and a deep wound to the breast. They dressed her in a silk gown of mulberry brocade, tied a muslim cap around her head, then had servants fetch a coffin and place her in it. Carefully they combed the long hair around her shoulders.

“What about the girl?”

“I locked her in.”

“Good. Don’t want her underfoot—”

Messer Buonaccorso sent word to friends and relatives, made arrangements for the Mass, then went to his study and sat heavily on the stout chair behind his desk. Ledgers were piled high in one corner, gathering dust now that he paid others to manage his banks. He pushed aside a stack of papers, to rest his head on his hands. The tall latticed window stood open a crack. He got up after a while and gazed down into the street, brooding. The wintry sun came slanting over red tiled roofs, to fall across his face. He roused himself and went down to the nursery.

He unlocked the door, trying to make no sound.

The girl wore a black dress. A dark ribbon confined her hair. He watched as she gathered herself up, intent on her game, then leaped across the floor. No sooner did she land on one tile than she sprang for the next, feet together. The next ... the next ...

“Raphaella?”

She whirled.

“Mama?”

He shook his head. “You ... can’t see her.”

“Why?”

“Because ...”

“Mama!” She tried to squeeze past him.

He stooped down to her.

What eyes! ... Not her mother’s ... nor her father’s ... hers were dark brown … shining so brightly that he felt an urge to talk to her as an equal.

“I’m afraid—”

He struggled for words.

“Come with me,” he sighed.

He led her across the courtyard, back upstairs to the hall. Servants had dragged in benches, scrubbing the floor till the red tiles shone. A thick Persian rug lay before the fireplace, brought years ago by camel and ship from the orient. In the morning light, floral designs of green, red and white formed gay patterns across the walls, interspersed with painted birds. But where the dinner table stood last night, now stood a pair of trestles, with the coffin resting on them. Two huge wax candles burned at each end, sending twists of smoke up to the rafters. He pulled up a bench, and started to lift the girl.

She shook off his hands, to climb up herself.

“Mama ...”

Monna Margherita’s features were pale, except for a bruise around one eye.

The girl touched her hand.

“Cold ...”

He nodded.

“Why?”

“She’s ... gone.”

Several minutes passed. Finally the girl turned, as tears trickled down her cheeks.

“It’s ... God’s will,” he said.

“No.” Fiercely the girl shook her head.

“She’s in heaven.”

“Where’s that?”

He bowed his head. “I wish I knew.”

She frowned, mistrustfully.

“Are you ready to go?”

“No.”

He sat on a bench, to ease the pain in his joints. He watched her ... feeling a little affection, in spite of himself ... even a touch of pride. She seemed small, frail, alone ... in a world she didn’t understand ... but she was willing to fight. She hadn’t given up ... as he had ... She hadn’t resigned herself to hopelessness or despair. That would be her fate, though, in years to come. She would give up ... as all men had to, when life proved too much for even the stoutest heart ...

He became lost in thought, slipping as an old man does into memories of the past, of days long gone when he had travelled across Italy and beyond the Alps to set up branches of his bank, to finance trading ventures across the Mediterranean, to Cyprus, Spain, and England. He even recalled his youth ... and his wife, long gone. It had been an arranged marriage that never blossomed into love, but he had cherished a mild affection for her, long ago … I’m a fool, he told himself. I haven’t thought of her in years ...

He heard mourners arriving, downstairs.

The nurse bustled in awkwardly, carrying a basket. She was stout, in her forties, missing a few teeth, with bulbous nose and foolish grin. “There you are!” She grabbed the girl by one ear. “Come along ... See! your hair’s messed—”

“No!”

The nurse tugged at her, but the girl struggled.

“Stop, girl! It ain’t seemly—”

Messer Buonaccorso bent down.

“Will you sit quietly? ... Then I’ll let you stay.”

The girl nodded, falling silent at once.

“It’s no good givin’ in to her whims,” the nurse shook her head.

She shuffled off, muttering, then remembered to come back and make the sign of the cross.

There were footsteps on the stairs. He rose to greet the mourners.

They filed in, nodding solemnly to Messer Buonaccorso and pressing his hand, then pausing to cross themselves before the body before finding a seat. The girl ignored them, as they ignored her. She continued to stare toward the coffin.

Monna Clarissa, eyes red, gray hair arranged under a pearl-studded cap, knelt before the coffin. When she was done praying she reached out to Raphaella’s cheek.

“Don’t!” The girl jerked away.

Monna Clarissa pursed her lips, and sat next to her brother. She was short, stout, her nose too long, eyes too closely spaced, frowning disapproval of a world that could never live up to her expectations.

There were whispered explanations to be given to relatives and, of course, to Ser Alessandro, to tell him how his daughter had died. Ser Alessandro, a merchant of the older generation, stood in a great black mourning cloak, his time-ravaged face expressionless, like a stoic’s. He wrinkled his brow, but said nothing.

When it was time to take up the coffin, Messer Buonaccorso held out a hand.

Ser Alessandro pretended not to see it.

They both advanced, to shoulder the front end of the coffin. An uncle and cousin took up the rear.

They carried their burden down to the street and placed it on a wagon. A priest raised a silver crucifix with both hands and led them on foot through narrow streets, as they recited psalms and prayers. The bells tolling at Santa Maria Novella grew steadily louder as they approached. At length they reached the great square before the church, took up the coffin and climbed the worn steps. Already four generations of the family lay entombed here; and now laborers raised the stone slab of the crypt once more, as a new place was made ready.

The glow of candles filled the chapel, failing to dispel the gloom from air heavy with incense.

They sat on benches as the bishop himself droned through the Mass in a dull, singsong voice. The women dabbed at their eyes. The girl sat between the nurse and Monna Clarissa. Most of her hair was tucked under a cap, but several strands spilled down her back. Usually she fidgetted and protested against the boredom of church. But today she sat quietly under the frescoes, the mosaics, the tall columns and striped arches.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

(Perpetual rest grant to them, Lord,

And may perpetual light shine upon them.)

When she tired of sitting, she drew up her legs to hug her knees. Monna Clarissa noticed, and swatted the girl till she put her legs back down.

Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine,

Ab omnibus malis

Praeteritis, praesentibus, et futuris …

(Deliver us, we pray, Lord,

From all evil

Past, present, and to come …)

They knelt, bowing their heads, as the bishop in black robes blessed the Host, raising it high above his head. A choir of voices chanted monotonously. As the last echoes died away, the bishop approached to offer prayers for the dead woman’s soul, sprinkling the coffin with holy water. Clouds of incense from the deacon’s censer filled the air, as they lowered the coffin into the crypt. With a heavy thud the slab was fitted back into place.

They returned home for the funeral dinner, which the laws of the city limited to two courses. There was a meat pie and a fish soup.

Family and guests sat around the tables, talking in muted voices, careful to speak only of everyday matters. No one wanted to be first to leave. No one ventured to speak of what had happened. Messer Buonaccorso studied the guests, through the noise of their desultory conversation. To dull our minds with the trite and commonplace, he thought, so we won’t have to brood—that’s what this is for ...

As the sun neared the city wall to the west, the mourners one by one began to take their leave.

Ser Alessandro was last to go. Messer Buonaccorso reached out a hand.

Again the old man pretended not to notice.

“Forgive me,” Messer Buonaccorso sighed, under his breath.

“Nurse, see to the girl,” Monna Clarissa ordered.

The nurse undressed Raphaella and tucked her in bed, then sat at her side. The girl stirred restlessly, but in a few minutes was asleep. Presently the nurse nodded off as well, her head sinking down on her ample bosom.

Upstairs in her bedroom Monna Clarissa lay down, exhausted, and slept without dreams.

Servants knew, without being told, that they could be lax in their duties. The house was still, the usual hustle and bustle forgotten, as though everyone needed an interval of quiet to come to grips with events.

Three days later came the feast of the Nativity. As for generations before, peasants who farmed for the Minerbettis brought fattened chickens and capons, bushels of wheat and rice, along with casks of wine.

The house was busy again. Servants were content. Messer Buonaccorso had never been a hard master, Monna Clarissa was easily avoided or misled, and they knew that after the main meal they could enjoy a leisurely day, even share leftovers from the table.

One incident marred the festivities.

Around noon, the servant in charge of the door hurried upstairs to seek out Messer Buonaccorso. He found him on the loggia, overlooking the courtyard. The master stood with velvet cap in one hand. A silver cross hung on a chain around his neck. He was gazing toward the red tiled roofs and brick towers that hid the bell tower of Santa Maria Novella. The servant halted behind him.

He cleared his throat.

“Your pardon, Messer Buonaccorso.”

There was no reply.

The silence became unnerving.

“There’s word, my lord.”

The old man didn’t turn. “What is it?”

“Your son … he’s surrendered to the police. An officer from the podestà is downstairs … He says there’s some question. He asks whether your son was wronged ... whether he had reason to act as he did.”

The old man bowed his head, the lines of his face deepening. “Too much,” he shook his head. “I expected too much of life ... All men are bad, the philosopher said; and I … have sixty years’ bitter experience, to prove it.”

“My lord—”

“I’ve lived too long, it seems.”

He went down the stairs, past the storeroom. The smell of roast fowl rose from the kitchen. He went under the arches to the servants’ quarters. The nurse was napping on a chair, snoring. He found Raphaella by herself, kneeling in her nightgown, bent over with long brown curls brushing the floor.

He put a hand to her shoulder.

She was studying something that crawled in a crack between two tiles. An ant, he saw.

“Girl?”

“Yes, grandfather?”

“A question for you.”

She turned her head, expectantly.

“If someone ... hurt you ...”

He hesitated.

“Or ... someone you loved—”

He glanced out at the sky, then turned back to her.

“Should we ... forgive?”

She put a finger in the ant’s path, and watched as it turned aside.

“What do you say?”

She looked up, solemnly.

“A bad person?”

“Yes,” he sighed. “Bad.”

“They should be punished.”

“So be it.”

He got up, shakily.

A maid was sweeping the flagstones around the well, gathering dried leaves fallen from the trellis. He went down the dark passage to the street. The short walk seemed to take forever; he had aged these past few months. I’m growing old, he thought, useful for nothing, memory fading and strength all gone.

Or almost gone.

There were heavy clouds and little light in the sky. The air smelled damp from the nearby Arno, and he could hear wagons loaded with goods trundling down the Via dei Tornaquinci at the end of the street.

The messenger from the podestà stood waiting, a tall grim-faced man. Behind him a man-at-arms held a banner on a staff, bearing a gold fleur-de-lys.

“Well, Messer Buonaccorso?”

“Tell the podestà …” He looked off into the distance. “Tell his Excellency ... don’t send the body here. There’s the potter’s field, when he’s done with it.”

Copyright © 2008 by Bill Bucko

All rights reserved.

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You write so well. Where do you get the background feel for this? It is as if you are familiar with life as it was back then.

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I agree, Bill writes very well. I've liked all the excerpts of his writing that have appeared on the Forum. His command of the Italian Renaissance milieu is obviously first rate. And he draws his characters very well, too.

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Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

I've already posted my strong opinions on fiction writing at http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=7045 .

Works like Raphaella di Piero come from treating writing the same way Henry Cameron and Howard Roark treated architecture. Not from treating it as a nice hobby, or an opportunity to preach Objectivism, or to do Ayn Rand pastiches, or to see how many slanted adjectives you can pile up (all of which bear as much resemblance to genuine writing as walking on your hands does to running).

I never tried to write like Ayn Rand, never tried to preach Objectivism in my works. Instead, I worked on storytelling, and on expressing my own sense of life.

As far as verisimilitude, a wealth of material has survived from Renaissance Florence -- more documents, letters and diaries than any one person could read in a lifetime. From the Afterword of my novel:

Historians of the early Italian Renaissance know of an old chronicle, a manuscript full of violent, colorful events, covering the years 1385-1409. Formerly attributed to Piero di Giovanni Minerbetti, it is now considered an anonymous work. Whoever the author, it was passed down by members of the Minerbetti family in Florence, and eventually printed in Muratori’s collection of documents,
Rerum Italicarum Scriptores
(New Series, vol. XXVII, part 2).

The anonymous chronicler was, by his own account, an old man who wrote to refresh his failing memory. Though written a hundred years before Machiavelli, the work betrays a similar perspective. As Louis Green observes in
Chronicle into History
: “One has the impression, reading it, of a world ruled by fraud and violence, viewed with a detachment that seems almost to imply consent, or at least acquiescence ...” (p. 90) The author rarely criticized even the foulest acts of treachery. It was while reading of this old chronicle that I decided to write about the conflict between a child's innocence and her guardian's cynicism.

The main characters in
Raphaella di Piero
are fictitious, but the background is authentic. I borrowed the Minerbetti and Rucellai family names, and their neighborhood of the Via della Vigna Nuova. (They lived just down the street from the Canto dei Tornaquinci, future site of the Palazzo Strozzi and Luca Landucci’s apothecary shop. Landucci’s
Diary
, covering the years 1450-1516, helped me visualize the setting.) For many details I am again indebted to Iris Origo’s
Merchant of Prato
and the 1904 edition of Elvira Grifi’s
Saunterings in Florence
.

I have incorporated several historical incidents into my novel. For the rescue of Lorenzo Puccini from the Inquisition (actual date, 1383) and the burning of Fra Michele of Calci (1389), I followed the eye-witness accounts reproduced in Gene Brucker’s extraordinary collection of documents,
The Society of Renaissance Florence.
(The Inquisition was weak in Florence, and Fra Michele appears to have been the only heretic burned within a period of fifty years.) The murder of Gambacorta of Pisa by his trusted friend Appiano (1392) is recounted in most histories of the period ...

Let me recommend again two extraordinarily COLORFUL novels set in the Italian Renaissance, that kindled my interest decades ago:

Rafael Sabatini's
Bellarion
, and

Sandra Shulman's
The Florentine
.

Though out of print, both are available inexpensively on the used book market. Sabatini's novel is one of his very best, easily rivalling Scaramouche and Captain Blood. Shulman's book is dripping with lush, gorgeous, violent detail--far more colorful than my own work. Both deserve to be much more widely known.

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You are well read Bill. Thanks for the information. Perhaps you may know a little about a painting in our family, of Beatrice Cenci. It is of a beautiful young girl, copied from a painting in the Vatican I am told.

I found the following information about a play on this historical event that may interest you, for a story on her. I understand they were executed in public.

"It was during the Pontificate of Clement VIII., in the year 1599. The story is that an old man, having spent his life in debauchery and wickedness, conceived at length an implacable hatred towards his children; which showed itself towards one daughter under the form of an incestuous passion, aggravated by every circumstance of cruelty and violence. This daughter, after long and vain attempts to escape from what she considered a perpetual contamination both of body and mind, at length plotted with her mother-in-law and brother to murder their common tyrant. The young maiden who was urged to this tremendous deed by an impulse which overpowered its horror was evidently a most gentle and amiable being, a creature formed to adorn and be admired, and thus violently thwarted from her nature by the necessity of circumstance and opinion. The deed was quickly discovered, and, in spite of the most earnest prayers made to the Pope by the highest persons in Rome, the criminals were put to death. The old man had during his life repeatedly bought his pardon from the Pope for capital crimes of the most enormous and unspeakable kind at the price of a hundred thousand crowns; the death therefore of his victims can scarcely be accounted for by the love of justice. The Pope, among other motives for severity, probably felt that whoever killed the Count Cenci deprived his treasury of a certain and copious source of revenue. Such a story, if told so as to present to the reader all the feelings of those who once acted it, their hopes and fears, their confidences and misgivings, their various interests, passions and opinions, acting upon and with each other yet all conspiring to one tremendous end, would be as a light to make apparent some of the most dark and secret caverns of the human heart."

With your research you may have come across this episode, and if you know any more, I would love to hear it.

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The poet Percy Shelley, who considered himself an atheist, wrote an impassioned play in verse based on this incident, excoriating the corruption of the Church. It's a true story (though some such stories about the popes are untrue, e.g. "Pope Joan," and most of the crimes attributed to Lucrezia Borgia and her father Pope Alexander VI).*

The story does not suit me personally, for incorporation into my works, even as a background. With rare exceptions, I follow Victor Hugo's practice, and any actual events are kept in the background, not the foreground, of my works.

A little-known female artist, Elisabetta Sirani, painted a striking portrait of Beatrice Cenci around 1662 (or, according to this site I just found, the portrait may have been by Guido Reni):

http://faculty.cua.edu/pennington/Dartmout...ture/Cenci1.htm

* Off topic: nasty epigram posted in public, after one of Alexander VI's sons was murdered, and the pope ordered the Tiber River dragged for the body:

Lest we think thee no fisher of men, O Alexander,

Thou art casting the net for thy son.

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I see now that you want to weave your own stories into the background of history. By the way, that is the painting we have a copy of. We were told that artists were not allowed to set up easel in view of the original.

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Animus vinci non potest, nisi voluntarie.

The spirit cannot be broken unless one wills it so.

Niccolò da Uzzano (1424)

PROLOGUE — DECEMBER 1391

Wow, Bill, what magnetism your writing has! How cleverly you draw the reader into the story until he is completely transported with all five senses acutely activated. I found the imagery powerful - I could even smell the dripping candle grease and bees-waxed furniture. Thank you for sharing this here. A delight. Incidentally, I was so taken in by Messer Buonaccorso, that I felt compelled to do a little sketch of him. He does have a wiry, steel-gray bushy beard doesn't he? :angry2:

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Thanks for your comments.

No, Messer Buonaccorso has no beard. He looks rather like Charles Laughton. Beards weren't too common in early Renaissance Florence (as this is). Intellectually and artistically, Florence was the most advanced city in the world--about a hundred years ahead of northern Europe. Unlike Messer Agostino in The Outcasts ( http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=7583 ), Messer Buonaccorso was not old-fashioned; he was a cosmopolitan man of the world who thought deeply, questioned religion, and read books (his library would include plenty of Dante and Petrarch). His neighbors the Rucellais (who'll appear in later chapters) have a tutor for their children who will study Greek with Manuel Chrysoloras; and Raphaella will join them. Brunelleschi, Ghiberti and Donatello are already young men. Before the novel ends, in 1402, Michelozzo, Uccello, Fra Angelico, Luca della Robbia and Masaccio will have been born.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: The final version of Raphaella di Piero, which I have been working on since 1991, will be available in approximately two weeks on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle formats. I consider it the climax of my writing career--my artistic testament.

This will be my fourth published book. My previous books are:

(as translator) The Mysterious Valley, by Maurice Champagne (The Atlantean Press, 1994);

Ayn Rand's French Children's Magazines (The Ayn Rand Institute Press, 2009) (limited edition); and

The Outcasts (Quattrocento Press, 2012) (currently available on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle formats).

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The Kindle edition is available NOW:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008C9GLYU/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

The paperback edition will be available in 3 or 4 days, as soon as I verify that the proof copy printed OK.

From the description:

A harrowing drama of murder and love, in the early Italian Renaissance!

“What is she to conclude, when she understands what happened? That love leads to ... death? That pain is all she can expect, if she ever cares for someone? .... You look into her eyes and see a wall of fear to keep you out. You would die for her, and that’s why she can never be yours?”

Raphaella di Piero tells of a profound love; but it is not primarily a love story. Its theme is the crucial importance of valuing in human life. It tells of two children, their souls deeply scarred by violence, who struggle to make sense of the world around them.

From the author of The Outcasts: the story of a girl whose father murdered her mother … and the boy who loves her.

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Most typographical issues are fixed; one or two are left. I want to make this book as good-looking as possible. The paperback should be ready in 3 or 4 more days.

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I’m happy to announce the publication of my 4th book, Raphaella di Piero, a short novel (33,000 words) I’ve been working on since 1991. It’s the climax of my writing career, expressing everything I want to say about life.

It’s now available on Amazon, both in paperback:

www.amazon.com/Raphaella-di-Piero-Bill-Bucko/dp/1477659234/

or Amazon’s CreateSpace store: https://www.createspace.com/3908489

and in Kindle format:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008C9GLYU

(No Kindle device needed; just download the free Kindle app for PC or Mac.)

Description:

A harrowing drama of murder and love, in the early Italian Renaissance!

“What is she to conclude, when she understands what happened? That love leads to ... death? That pain is all she can expect, if she ever cares for someone? .... You look into her eyes and see a wall of fear to keep you out. You would die for her, and that’s why she can never be yours?”

Raphaella di Piero tells of a profound love; but it is not primarily a love story. Its theme is the crucial importance of valuing in human life. It tells of two children, their souls deeply scarred by violence, struggling to make sense of the world around them.

From the author of The Outcasts: the story of a girl whose father murdered her mother … and the boy who loves her.

(The Kindle version has actually been available for a couple of weeks, but the paperback was just released this morning.)

Any reviews would be welcome.

Thank you,

Bill Bucko

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The Kindle edition is available NOW:

Congratulations Bill! You must feel quite proud to see the product you've worked on for so long out in the world now!

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THANK YOU VERY MUCH, Phil and Carlos!

I hope you buy copies, and tell others about the book.

I think you'll find it's one of the best novels since "Atlas Shrugged."

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