Hornby, Simonetta Agnello. The Almond Picker. Translated by Alastair McEwan. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
Reason read: There is a festival is Sicily in February called the Almond Blossom festival.
Maria Rosalia Inzerillo, otherwise known as Mennulara, is a mystery. Born into poverty in Western Sicily, she grew up picking almonds with her farming family. As soon as she was of age, Mennulara became the maid for the rich and powerful Alfallipe family. Over time, she became an indispensable administrator of all their affairs, financial and even personal. She had a talent for investments and became a shrewd businesswoman. Rumors surrounded Mennulara: her wealth, her position in the Alfallipe family, even her rumored connections with the mafia. In life, Mennulara was described as outspoken, brash, brave, rude, unique, bad tempered, devoted, dignified, diffident, distant, unpleasant, imperious, ugly, beautiful, complex, secretive, a tyrant. When she dies at a relatively young age the entire community clamors for answers. Who was this woman? How odd that a seemingly common servant’s death would reverberate through the Italian community and no group is more obsessed than the Alfallipe family. Convinced she owes them her inheritance and then-some, they scheme and squabble to find it. The final outcome is brilliant.
Starting on Monday, September 23rd, 1963 The Almond Picker documents a month in time. The accounts are daily (skipping Saturday, September 28th, 1963)until October 1st, 1963 with a final entry on October 23rd of that same year.
Author fact: Hornby is a rock star. Not only is she a fantastic author but she is a champion for victims of domestic abuse. Which explains the abuse scenes in The Almond Picker.
Book trivia: The Almond Picker is Hornby’s first novel. Second book trivia – Hornby dedicated The Almond Picker to British Airways.
Nancy said: Nancy just pointed out The Almond Picker takes place in Sicily.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter simply called “Sicily” (p 209).