"That was the deeply paradoxical nature of a confidence: it might draw you in close, but it also contained the seeds of banishment, exile, and even, possibly, annihilation."
It’s a very serious book, but this quote is sort of “Mean Girls”, seventeenth-century Florence style.
I asked the great Rupert Thomson about his next novel, and this is what he said.
It’s called Secrecy, and it’s set in Florence in the 1690s. The Renaissance is long gone and the city is a dark, repressive place, where everything is forbidden and anything is possible. Facing criminal charges, a young man called Zummo — he really existed — is forced to flee his native Siracusa. The crimes he’s accused of are so heinous that they could destroy him. He travels to Palermo, then to Naples, but always has the feeling that his past is on his trail, and that he’ll never be free of it.
Zummo is an artist who works with wax. He’s obsessed with the plague, and makes little wooden cabinets filled with graphic, tortured models of the dead and dying. In his late thirties he arrives in Florence at the invitation of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who is overweight, gloomy, devout and obsessed with Marguerite-Louise, the woman he was married to, the woman who has left him. Zummo becomes the Grand Duke’s confidant and is asked to make a piece of work that borders on the illicit, a piece of work no one must know about. At the same time, Zummo has met a young woman who fascinates him. It turns out that she’s in possession of a secret even more dangerous than his own…
It’s a thwarted love story, a murder mystery, an exercise in concealment and revelation, but above all it’s a kind of trapdoor narrative, one story dropping unexpectedly into another, the ground always slippery, uncertain…
Well, you asked!
Also, there’s a sexy scene involving “a pair of scissors and three envelopes.” So excited to read it.
"I love you as much as the despair I felt."
—Kyung-Sook Shin’s I’ll Be Right There (via windupbird1995)