Palmerino is a beautifully written literary book, framed in the present with past and present sandwiched in between; with a living author ( the narrator) merging and “sandwiching” with a dead author (that author being Violet Paget, better known by her pen name Vernon Lee). The narrator, Sylvia– so named to represent the forest and foliage around the Palmerino villa–is a novelist. Palmerino gives great insight into the process of writing: the obsession, the thin line characters dance in the space-time continuum, the sometimes insatiable appetite to know and possess another person’s mind, the aggressive and competitive pursuit of an intellectual life, the comforts–and distraction–of food, friends, dogs–when a writer is on a roll. At one point the narrator-and-subject note the quality of the people who cross into their sphere: will they provide intellectual material or social connection? If not, then they useless.
The scenery in the novel is breathtaking–dew saturated ancient shrubbery; candles on trees illuminating gardens at night–the characters are eccentrically appropriate–a long lean Scottish horse woman who is all legs; a old gardener in old clothes who stumbles along cracked paths.
It’s a book to savor–the ending was somewhat an abrupt surprise, so I won’t tell it.