The Volcano Lover: A Romance
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Set in 18th century Naples, based on the lives of Sir William Hamilton, his celebrated wife Emma, and Lord Nelson, and peopled with many of the great figures of the day, this unconventional, bestselling historical romance from the National Book Award-winning author of In America touches on themes of sex and revolution, the fate of nature, art and the collector's obsessions, and, above all, love.
Neapolitan rebels, the Queen would be shocked to learn that there are those who consider her a bloodthirsty woman. Though she is always for executions, she is against torture. Angelotti must be recaptured tonight, do you understand? Yes, Majesty. Scarpia takes his leave to return to his headquarters upstairs in the palace, where the painter will be interrogated. The Queen, having vented her fury on Scarpia, is resolved not to let this little piece of bad news spoil her party. As they speak,
often was—never at injuries done to her (of these she was very indulgent, or easily placated), but at an injury or slight done to others. If she had a snobbish reaction, she could only express it directly. Oh lordy how vulgar they was, she would exclaim, returning from an evening out—the Cavaliere took her everywhere, and everyone welcomed her. Nobody is as good, as wise, as attractive as you, she said to the Cavaliere. And no one, thought the Cavaliere, was as versatile as she. As a woman she
pleasure in portraying women whose destiny was so unlike her own happy one, such as Ariadne and Medea, princesses who sacrificed all—past, family, social position—for a foreign lover and then were betrayed. She saw them not as victims but as persons who were inordinately expressive: persons affecting and heroic in the intensity of their feeling, in the recklessness and wholeheartedness with which they gave themselves to a single emotion. She elaborated her Attitudes, improved the stagecraft and
discreetly selling some cameos, gems, small statues, and other lesser loves among the antiquities he had rescued from Naples. His wife had a plan: she would try to win enough money for their current expenses at the gambling table. But what started as one more dash of intervention in response to someone’s distress turned into a passion. Another passion. Gambling, drinking, eating—all her activities were unstinting, became cravings. And the heightened, doubled desire to please further turned up the
the fat lady and the short man with one arm, and try to look only at the mirrors, but a gust of happiness that seems to have no borders, bliss without an edge, envelops them, and exhausted by the stress of desire, hilarious with happiness, they turn toward each other and kiss (and kiss and kiss), and their turn, their kiss, was shattered, multiplied in the mirrors above. In these surroundings, which bespeak reclusiveness, refusal of ordinary sentiments, whose only romance is with objects, two