The Tempest of Clemenza
"Thirteen year-old Clemeza and her mother, Abel, celebrate Clemza's birthday knowing that she is dying. That night, a woman bursts in from the storm, desperate to recover a diary that might have slipped into a bundle of second-hand books. Unsuccessful in her search, the woman disappears into the night.
"Later, Abel discoves the diary and begins to read the story or Cornelia, a young girl growing up in 1950s Sydney. Cornelia's diary becomes one of the many stories of the novel - funny, sad and sweetly niave, it is a kind of fairy-tale for Clemenza and the reader, a fond remembrance of lost innocence. Woven around this is the strange story of Abel's unhappy marriage and escape, an unknown father, and the true identity of the woman who came to the door...
"Told over the course of the last day of Clemenza's life, darkly romantic, mysterious and exquisitely crafted with gothic intricacy, The Tempest of Clemenza is a tour de force by Glenda Adams."
Ludlow, Vermont. August. If I had known it was to be the last day of Clemenza's life, I would not have returned to The Haunted Mansion with the diaries. I would not have driven in that cursed rain searching for a beautiful notebook, as she had requested, so that she could begin writing the story of her life. i1 would have stayed by the fire, at her side, the two of us warming ourselves after our ordeal on the lake in the storm. But she had urged me to go. The diaries had to be returned to their author. And Clemenza was eager to embark on her own account of her life in the notebook that very night. She had just turned thirteen and felt that such an achievement warranted commemoration.
Clemenza's birthday picnic had been followed by three days of unrelenting rain. When the storm clouds first arrived, they were arranged in a column reaching high into the heavens, suggesting that a nuclear explosion had taken place in the vicinity of Bennington. That column broadened to form a wall, and soon raindrops like tennis balls hurtled across the lake through the porch screen onto the oilcloth that covered the rough planks of my desk.
Clemenza and I were driven inside, onto the square of green rug that defined the living-room in our cottage - rustic would be the real-estate term - a two-storey wooden structure, unfinished on the inside. We crouched before the fire, our wet clothes strung out around us to dry. At Clemenza's insistence, we passed the time telling stories, in categories defined by her as life and love, events both familiar and frightening, times and places far away. She was concerned with the meaning of love, romance and infatuation and returned often to Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare's decision to make Juliet so young was of special interest to Clemenza, who was approaching Juliet's age and wondered if there was any chance her life would take such dramatic and romantic turns before she died.
From the Angus & Robertson hardback edition, 1996.
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Last modified: March 10, 2009.