The Devil and Maria d'Avalos
Allen & Unwin, $29.95 pb, 321pp
In this novel, Victoria Hammond, an art historian, describes the architecture, painting and music of Naples in the early modern period, and, more generally, excels at what anthropologist Clifford Geertz calls ‘thick description’. The context of The Devil and Maria d’Avalos is late sixteenth-century Naples, and the narrative brims with historical specificities. The author’s preface informs us that her novel is based upon a true story: the brutal double murder of Maria d’Avalos and her lover Fabrizio Carafa, the duke of Andria, an honour killing perpetrated by Maria’s husband, Carlo Gesualdo, the prince of Venosa.