Synopses & Reviews
O, The Oprah Magazine Title to Pick Up Now”
American Library Association Over the Rainbow List” selection
Welcome to Palmerino, the British enclave in rural Italy where Violet Paget, known to the world by her pen name and male persona, Vernon Lee, held court. In imagining the real life of this brilliant, lesbian polymath known for her chilling supernatural stories, Melissa Pritchard creates a multilayered tale in which the dead writer inhabits the heart and mind of her lonely, modern-day biographer.
Positing the art of biography as an act of resurrection and possession, this novel brings to life a vividly detailed, subtly erotic tale about secret loves and the fascinating artists and intellectualsOscar Wilde, John Singer Sargent, Henry James, Robert Browning, Bernard Berensonwho challenged and inspired each other during an age of repression.
Melissa Pritchard is the author of eight books of fiction, including The Odditorium, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. Among other honors, her books have received the Flannery O'Connor, Janet Heidinger Kafka, and Carl Sandburg awards, and two of her short fiction collections were New York Times Notable Book and Editors Choice selections.
"Violet Paget, who wrote under the name Vernon Lee, is now largely forgotten, but in the Victorian era, she was a well-known intellectual, writer, and eccentric (she wore men's clothes and was likely a lesbian) who palled around with the likes of Henry James and John Singer Sargent. Palmerino, Paget's house outside Florence, is the site of Pritchard's (The Odditorium) novel and the place where Sylvia, a writer of historical fiction whose last books did poorly and whose husband has just left her, has come to write about Paget. Increasingly engrossed in her subject she is even, it comes to seem, haunted and possessed by her Sylvia tries to imagine the intimate details of the relationships between Paget and the women she loved. The book toggles between the past and the present, between Sylvia's more biographical efforts and her more novelistic ones and her waning connection to present-day life. Pritchard focuses on the complexities of love and the limits and possibilities of empathetic imagination, but while the Italian setting is deftly handled, the extra layers of story, notwithstanding the supernatural touches, don't add enough, and the book never achieves the synthesis it needs to carry weight as a novel rather than as a sympathetic prÃ©cis of Paget's life." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
O, The Oprah Magazine Title to Pick Up Now”
American Library Association Over the Rainbow List” selection
A richly imagined, sensuous tale of a British writer holding court in Italy, flouting Victorian mores via her writing and her sexuality.” O, The Oprah Magazine
Slim and poetic . . . the mood is of thunderstorm air thick with loneliness and longing.” National Post
Part love story (or stories), part treatise on aesthetics, part mysterious tale of the supernatural, Palmerino [is] a tale of multiple seductions.” Phoenix New Times
A novel of allure . . . as fanciful as Astrid Lindgrens Villa Villakula and foreboding as The Eagles Hotel California,” Palmerino is surprising at every turn, sometimes frightening, and above all beautiful.” Lambda Literary
Melissa Pritchard has opened the door to understanding a once famous British lesbian writer. . . . Palmerino is a beautifully written and well-structured work.” Gay and Lesbian Review
[Palmerino] draws its life from its large and vivid characters. . . . With her signature hothouse lyricism and psychological acuity, Pritchard carries us fully into her created world.” IMAGE: Art, Faith, Mystery
In a mere 192 pages, Melissa Pritchard has created a rich, lush, and riveting story of two women writers in different eras.” Shelf Unbound
The achingly gorgeous prose in which Palmerino is written strikes pitch-perfect harmony with its equally strong expression of humanity, promising that the hidden beauty within is always worth the time it takes to discover it.” CCLaP: Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
A fascinating historical novel. . . . A mesmerizing love story. . . . Magnificent.” Connotation Press
Haunting, seductive, and magical.” GayRVA.com
Pritchard skillfully blends the past and present in her novel Palmerino, a book both richly lyrical and highly imaginative.” Largehearted Boy
Enthralling . . . An intriguing introduction to Violet Paget, and an unusual look into the mysteries of writing.” Booklist
A supernaturally infused, innovative story . . . Pritchards fertile imagination and presentation give new meaning to the expression a meeting of the minds.” Kirkus Reviews
Lush, tactile descriptions and impressionistic scenes bring alive this historical novel . . . cast[ing] Paget and her late nineteenth-century lifestyle in a captivating light.” ForeWord Reviews
Vibrant, passionate and absorbing. . . . Recommended.” Historical Novels Review
Rarely has a novel based on real people reached such deftly crafted literary excellence as this historical work of fiction clearly documenting Melissa Pritchard as a writer equal to any of the people populating her superbly presented story. Palmerino is a complex and entertaining novel that is highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library literary fiction collections.” Midwest Book Review
Fiction can reimagine flesh-and-blood folks to stunning effect . . . What a pleasure, then, to discover Melissa Pritchards Palmerino, which envisions the life of Vernon Lee, the pen name and male persona of Englishwoman Violet Paget. Opening with the contemporary story of Sylvia, who discovers Lee while working at Villa il Palmerino in the Italian countryside and becomes her biographer, this work is related in sun-on-raindrops prose that draws in readers.” BARBARA HOFFERT, Library Journal Book Expo America Editors Pick
Dazzling in its descriptions, lush and lyrical in language, Palmerino is a jewel of a novel. It is a tale to be savored like a rich Italian pastry. Melissa Pritchards characterseccentric, quirky, and brilliantwill live on in the heart and mind long after the last crumb is licked from the plate.” NAOMI BENARON, author of Running the Rift
At the heart of Palmerino lies beauty, grace, longing, love. Melissa Pritchards picturesque prose is fertile, sensuous, a voice of insight, truth. Unique and refreshing as the great female soul that is Palmerino. Gorgeous and heartbreaking. This book is a sensual treasure.” KIM CHINQUEE, author of Pretty
Palmerino finds Melissa Pritchards signature style in peak form. Pritchard is a writer of sensibility. Her unique gift is the ability to interweave the resonances of consciousnessmemory, intelligence, emotionwith those of a historical time and a powerful sense of place, so that character emerges as a coherent, credible, internal voice uttering a sensual flow of language, both lush and precise.” STUART DYBEK, author of The Coast of Chicago
This lovely, sexy novel provides a sumptuous glance into the secret lives of artists. At its center is Violet, a fierce woman who never met a rule she didnt break. Melissa Pritchards voice is completely her own and her characters are as unique, wild and magical as she is.” TAYARI JONES, author of Silver Sparrow
Bounding between Italy today and of a century ago, a breathtaking gallop through intellectualism, feminism, sexuality, cultural history, honeysuckle, focaccia, plums, language, landscape, love, the supernatural, metafiction, mortality and resurrection, with Pritchard always firmly at the reins.” ANNE KORKEAKIVI, author of An Unexpected Guest
A taut and elegant imagining of Vernon Lees life that sparkles with Einfühlung for the writer, for Italy and for the lovewild, unconsummated, shatteredthat lies at the heart of the best creative work. Weaving fact and fiction, past and present, Palmerino becomes its own beautiful mirror, a work that slips free of the self to reveal the mysterious other. Sublime and moving, its gorgeous prose haunts the reader long after the last page.” ANA MENÉNDEZ, author of Adios, Happy Homeland!
Seduction is at the lush heart of Palmerino. The Florentine retreat seduces us just as surely as it seduces the lonely and abandoned Sylvia, an historical novelist who in turn is seduced by the spirit of the brilliant Violet Paget, who lived there a century earlier. Writing as Vernon Lee, Violets own seduction is one of the most quietly erotic scenes ever written.” PAMELA PAINTER, author of Wouldnt You Like to Know
In her subtle yet breathtaking new novel, Palmerino, Melissa Pritchard seduces us once again with her characteristically sensual and deeply poetic prose. Elegantly braiding time, this woven narrative is calibrated by Pritchards exquisite erotic reckonings and resonant aesthetic reflections. In resurrecting Violet Paget/ Vernon Lee at our own historical moment (and by invoking a gallery of beloved and provocative artists and esthetes), Melissa Pritchard has provided for her readers a portrait-mirror in which to gazea glorious vision of both Palmerino and of a writer in pursuit of its historyone that would make even Oscar Wilde blush with envy.” DAVID ST. JOHN, author of The Auroras
Melissa Pritchard stands out among contemporary writers for her ability to portray the complex inner lives of her characters. As we follow them through their experiences and memories into their dreams, were invited to flex our own imaginations, even, if were willing, to become more supple thinkers, thanks to this writers supple prose.” JOANNA SCOTT, author of Follow Me
A brilliant novel whose cast of characters, strong, strange, vivid, eccentric, will make you feel enriched and enlivened, and will leave you wanting to visit, or to visit again, the rich interiors of Tuscany past and present, the opulent mysteries of its food and wine, and not least the magic of its natural landscapes and seasons. Melissa Pritchards delicate and precise prose achieves all this, as if casually, while capturing her reader in the forward momentum of her story.” C.K. STEAD, author of Mansfield
A richly atmospheric, supernaturally shaded novel based on the true story of a brilliant Victorian-era writer and intellectual
About the Author
Melissa Pritchard is the author of eight books of fiction, including The Odditorium and Palmerino (forthcoming from Bellevue Literary Press in 2014), and a biography of Virginia Galvin Piper that US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor called a delight to read.” Among other honors, her books have received the Flannery OConnor, Janet Heidinger Kafka and Carl Sandburg awards and two of her short fiction collections were New York Times Notable Book and Editors Choice selections. Her fiction, essays, and journalism have also appeared in numerous magazines, textbooks, anthologies, and journals, including the Nation, Paris Review, O, The Oprah Magazine, A Public Space, Ecotone, and the Chicago Tribune as well as the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies. After working in Afghanistan as an embedded journalist, Pritchard founded the Ashton Goodman Fund in support of the Afghan Womens Writing Project. A professor of English, she teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.