"Haunting...vivid...entrancing!" Kirkus. "Gorgeously detailed, wickedly fun," Prairie Schooner.In Lappin's prize-winning, literary gothic tale, the tantalizing love story between American heroine Harriet Sacket and the enigmatic Count Federigo, self-proclaimed Etruscan spirit, is played out in 1922 against the backdrop of eerie Etruscan tombs, boar-infested woods, and elegant Tuscan villas. The Etruscan recounts the adventures of Harriet Sackett, trouser-wearing American photographer who travels to Italy to photograph Etruscan tombs for the Theosophical Society. Here she falls in love with the charismatic Federigo del Re, occultist , amateur archaeologist, and shape-shifter, but her increasing fascination with the man will leave her on the brink of collapse. The story is told from the viewpoint of Harriet's English cousins, Stephen and Sarah, whose own dark secrets are revealed as they read the diary Harriet has kept of her obsession, trying to understand what has transpired. As the unraveling of Harriet's mind is revealed, so too are the secrets of Harriet's family- secrets which are no less disturbing than those revealed in her diary. The mystery at the heart of Harriet's experience draws the reader on: who is Federigo del Re, the man she calls "her secret sun"? Noble lover, unscrupulous conman, Etruscan ghost, village shaman, or simply the product of Harriet's delusion? Lappin keeps the suspense pulled taut till the very last page. Readers traveling to Italy this summer or just lounging at home dreaming of Tuscany can lose themselves in the Etruscan woods of Lappin's lush landscapes.What Readers Are Saying:"Think Fifty Shades of... but fifty times better written," Margaret Bramley, Bookcrossing.com"Pan dances more deeply in The Etruscan than he does in Lawrence's Etruscan Places" Mel Ulm, The Reading Life."I was enthralled by Lappin's Italy... and by that god/demon/boar that flits through its landscape" Nina Auerbach, critic, author of Our Vampires, Ourselves"Reminiscent at times of John Fowles' The Magus" A.E. StallingsFrom the book "The road to the tombs skirted a field of shriveled sunflowers, an army of nodding heads on stalks, bowed and blackened, awaiting harvest. There were no houses out this way, only wide expanses of tawny stubble, alternating with strips of freshly ploughed clay. Here and there on a hilltop, a dead oak or cypress punctuated the empty sky where hungry crows swooped low. Grazing in the quiet meadows were flocks of dirty sheep. Their bells tinkled as they turned their heads to stare at me. A solitary traveler on the road, an alien by local standards: a tallish woman, no longer young, wearing a pair of moleskin trousers and rubber boots; a rucksack swinging on my shoulders. The black felt hat pulled low over my forehead concealed my cropped blonde hair. When working or traveling, I always dress in men's clothes. To those placid sheep I probably looked like a walking scarecrow. ..
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How I came to write The EtruscanI was renting an old farmhouse in a medieval village just twenty minutes down the superstrada from Viterbo, where for twenty- two years, I taught English as a "lettrice" at the University of the Tuscia. Although I worked in Viterbo, my main base was Rome, and I spent hours and hours every week traveling back and forth on trains. After seven years, I was exhausted and so I decided to keep a " pied-a-terre" in the area so I could stay over without traveling back to Rome. The friend of a friend had a place for rent. It was financial suicide to keep a second house on my scanty teacher's salary, but if I were to keep my job and my health, I had to find a solution.I'll never forget my first impression of that house as I pulled up in the drive on a rainyNovember night. Two yellow windows like eyes were aglow in the night. A horned stone guardian standing by the door watched with lidless eyes as I slipped in through the door and climbed a steep stone staircase. A huge gilt mirror met me on the landing and I stepped into a room with low ceiling beams, a red brick floor, a brisk fire burning in an enormous fireplace reflected in gilt frame mirrors hanging on every wall. Nothing could have been more removed from the cramped apartment my husband and I inhabited not far from the Mt. Tiburtini metro station, where you hear the TVs, toilet flushes, and cell phones of all your neighbors. A house is more than just a container, Gaston Bachelard has written. This one had a palpable soul.Here there were stars visible in the windows (which you had to keep closed at night because of the bats) and a special quality of silence. A big room with east window overlooking the cemetery became my studio. I ended up spending weeks at a time there, and my husband came up for week ends. We soon noted that the house interacted with its inhabitants by influencing their dreams. Overnight visitors invariably reported dreams of the underworld. I found the house's many mirrors intriguing and unsettling. They seemed to be portals to another world.The entire area is Etruscan territory, and was probably a colony of the larger Etruscan town of Norchia. Fragments of an Etruscan wall stand near the Vitorchiano cemetery, and along the sides of the gorge atop of which the old town stands, there are dozens of Etruscan tombs and grottoes. We first explored these, then pushed on to discover Norchia, Castel D'Asso, Blera, Barbarano Romano. A friend of mine has a theory that these are places of power where the earth's energies may be tapped to enhance health and awareness. I do not know if this is so, but the sight of those mysterious T shaped doors hung with ivy, hidden behind thick vegetation began to act on my imagination. Returning home after teaching an evening class, I lit a fire and let the resonance of that silent house work upon my mind. On those chilly evenings as the fire burned low, I started writing my novel, The Etruscan, set in 1922, just five years before D.H. Lawrence immortalized his visit to the area in Etruscan Places. Like Lawrence, the heroine of my novel, Harriet Sackett, comes in search of a source of deeper life and finds that source in the mysterious Etruscans.From the Back Cover:
Fiction. A yearning for adventure, a desire for fulfillment, and the need to get on with life after an unsuccessful liaison lead Harriet Sackett to the village of Vignavecchia in the heart of the Italian countryside. The year is 1922. Her intention is to photograph and research Etruscan tombs on behalf of the Theosophical Society. Some months later Sarah, Harriet's friend since childhood, and her husband Stephen, Harriet's cousin, meet up with Harriet in Florence. Sarah becomes deeply worried about Harriet's welfare and on her return to London sends her housekeeper, Mrs Parsons to help out for a while. Almost immediately, an urgent telegram summons them back to Italy. Mrs Parsons has arrived to find Harriet emaciated, on the point of collapse and unable to communicate. The atmosphere in the country cottage is deeply unsettling and the only clue to her condition is the discovery of a diary--a diary documenting a passionate relationship with the mysterious Federigo Del Re. In a wonderful, confident, and intriguing first novel, the reader is soon captured by the desperate urgency to find out what really happened and by the notion of reality itself.
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