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Summary

Near Mount Etna in Sicily lies Casa Cuseni, a beautiful house built in golden stone - and the home that Daphne Phelps was astonished to find she had inherited in 1947. At the age of 34, war-weary from working as a psychiatric social worker, with barely any Italian, and precious little money, she plunged into a fascinating Sicilian world. Every imaginable problem had to be overcome, not only financial difficulties but local authorities and a house staff who initially felt no loyalty to the new Signorina but who gradually accepted her as a respected member of their small community.

To help make ends meet, for many years she ran Casa Cuseni as a pensione and to her doors came Roald Dahl, Tennessee Williams, Bertrand Russell and Henry Faulkner. But just as important to her life and her story are the Sicilians with whom she shared the love and care of Casa Cuseni: Don Ciccio, the local mafia leader; Vincenzio, general manservant who recited while he served the meals; Beppe, a Don Juan who scented his eyebrows and his moustache to attract the local girls; and above all the steadfast cook and housekeeper who lives with Daphne still and to whom this book is dedicated.

©1999 Daphne Phelps (P)2006 Oakhill Publishing

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Fabulous social history over recent times

Having visited Sicily I was attracted to this book, I was not disappointed. It does give an overall picture of the social history and the problems that the people have to overcome to obtain even the most basics of need such as a family rather than being an orphan with the nuns, who themselves had no options but to stay there after maturing. I recommend this to anyone with an interest in how Sicily has fared past and present. It explains a great deal and makes sense of so much of which seems to be so contradictory to the outsider.

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Very evocative of life in Sicily

I have been listening while in Sicily and I am so glad I’ve had a window into the recent past and been able to feel the island. Daphne Phelps has very sensitively yet in beautifully descriptive ways told me more about the people their values and culture - and who they are today - than any guide Book could ever have done. Brilliant

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