Work in Progress

MadonnaofCharityIschia

Coming soon…THE POET
A work of historical fiction set in turbulent 16th-century Italy

To her father, the warrior Fabrizio Colonna, she was the daughter whose marriage sealed a political alliance.

To Costanza D’Avalos, Duchess of Francavilla, she was the young girl Costanza educated to be a woman molded after herself—independent, curious and passionate.

To her husband, Ferrante D’Avalos, she was the woman who adored him and whom he betrayed.

To the literary aristocracy in Italy, she was the most accomplished and most famous poet of her age.

To four popes, she was a voice of wisdom and influence to whom they turned in times of conflict.

To the community of reformers within the Church, she was a powerful force—and the only woman—giving voice to their fervent message.

To the Italian Inquisition, she was a suspected heretic.

And to Michelangelo, she was the only woman he ever loved.

SHE WAS VITTORIA COLONNA, THE POET.

Read an excerpt

Prologue

The artist’s hand moved across the page as if in a caress. But instead of stroking my face, he was sketching it. The late afternoon sun in the garden illuminated not only his reluctant subject, but allowed me to study him as he worked.

The hand holding his pencil was scarred and stained, the pigments from his latest masterpiece imbedded in the deep lines of his palm. The hand had neither the elegant proportions of his David nor the evocative power of his Adam on the Sistine ceiling. But it was a strong and beautiful hand to me, a hand that had reached out to me and lifted me up. A hand that had encircled my own and filled its emptiness.

A light smile played upon his lips and I found myself reflecting it back to him.

“I don’t know why you are doing this when you have so much other important work that begs for your attention.”

“I do this because I can give both of us long life by depicting these faces of ours.”

“You intend to make us immortal?”

“A thousand years from now, people will see how lovely you were and how wretched I. But more than that, they will see how, in loving you, I was no fool.”

I shook my head. “But you are a fool. What do you know of me to love me so?”

“I know enough. When others looked at me, they saw only a rough-hewn block of hardened stone, an impassive shell. But you, like a sculptor, carved away at me until you found the soul within.”

“You know the woman who arrived in your life fully formed, shaped by other hands. You do not know how she came to be or why she was so willing and eager to find you beneath the pain that separates you from the world.”

He put down his pencil. “Do you want me to know who you truly are? Will you tell me how you came to be here in this garden, in my life?”

I hesitated. Although I had accused Michelangelo of hiding behind the façade of his impenetrable melancholy, it was I who lived behind walls. The person I presented to society, while certainly not false, was not all.

“Are you sure you want to hear my story?”

“There is nothing I want more.”

Copyright 2014 Linda Cardillo

Stories of the search for connection and belonging