The Florios of Sicily by Stefania Auci. Translated by Katherine Gregor

Published: 2020 Originally published as I leoni di Sicilia in 2019. 1. First lines 2. Cover: Harper Collins 3. The harbour at Palermo [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr 4. Vincenzo Florio with his wife, Giulia Portalupi, and his son, Ignazio Florio, with his wife, Giovanna D’Ondes Trigona By Unknown author [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 5. Ignazio Florio Jr., Donna Franca and their first children, Giovanna and Ignazio “baby boy” By Unknown author [Public Domain] via Wikimedia

This book brings to life the story of the real-life Sicilian family, the Florios. After losing everything in an earthquake in their hometown in Italy, the family moves to Palermo in Sicily to set up a business trading in spices. It becomes a very successful business due to the family’s ruthlessness and ambition.

Couldn’t we afford anything better than this place?

Even though this is based on historical fact, the author has written a very readable novel, with characters that are depicted realistically. This is a strength of the novel also noted by Kirkus (“Auci focuses a panoramic lens on the Florio family’s achievements while never losing sight of the smaller personal details.”) and the Historical Novel Society (“Their true-to-life interactions, emotions and dialogue make it easy for readers to care.”). I also liked the way discrete chapters throughout the book place the narrative in historical context.


“Christmas 1799. Another year has gone by quickly and the aromateria has grown. They, the Florio brothers – after much struggling- have become known.”

”The city unfolds, and takes shape before him. Majolica domes, crenallated towers, roof tiles. There’s La Cala, the port, crammed with feluccas, brigs and schooners, a heart-shaped cove between two strips of land.”

Author: Stefania Auci

Audio sample from Audible

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