The original deluxe edition of The Palazzo was originally published by Lippincott. This delightful book is written in a bracing, astringent style that is part spumoni and part spice, the author writes of the eternal delights of the Eternal City about Americans in Rome doing as Americans do, and Romans doing as Romans have done for centuries.
The Palazzo presents a fascinating picture of Rome in the period that followed the time of The Talented Mr. Ripley.
MARY CHAMBERLIN was born in Lebanon, Illinois, and is a graduate of Monticello College in Alton, Illinois, where she was admitted when only fifteen years old.
Mary Chamberlin and
Lomax Study appearing in Private Lives circa 1933s.
Mr. Lomax most recently appeared in the film
Most Valuable Primate (2000)
The script for her award-wining teleplay, The Ascent of P. J. O'Hara, is preserved in the archives of the Steven H. Scheuer Collection at Yale University, which has sent us a copy for possible publication.
Review appearing in
THE BOOK READER, Fall/Winter 2002-2003
“Another Time, Another Sensibility.”
The author -
an actress at 18.
THE PALAZZO. By Mary Chamberlin, IDKPress, paper. Another time, another sensibility, another world. This novel was originally published in 1971 at a time when memories of the Second World War and its aftermath were still fresh. The Palazzo deserves to be re-publishedit’s original, extraordinarily well-written, and it captures the beat and the pace of Italian life in the 1950s. Pippo La Rose observes, “The weary heavens had worn themselves down to a drizzle.” Luisa Salvini knows the sun is out: “She hadn’t yet opened her eyes, but she knew it all the same. She could hear it.” American Carolyn Salvini observes, “Mrs. Aiken belonged to the sisterhood of women who have chosen to separate themselves from the world by desks.” Dino, the husband of Tullio’s eldest teenage daughter, is making American suggestionsTullio confides to Beppe Bonaccorsi that Dino “wanted me to cover the murals with pine wood and buy special checkerboard tablecloths and put little brass lamps on each table.” They are incredulous at this scandalous invasion of the new world. The major scenes take place in the Palazzo Salvini which the Marchesa Luisa Salvini has converted from a palace into separate rental apartments. The roof leaks, a glass veranda is shattered, the wiring system hisses and puffs and then smokes out, the antiquated elevator ‘may not know how to stop, the furnace belches noxious fumes. The guidebook says that there is “no finer example of pure Renaissance style than the well-preserved Palazzo Salvini.” But this is Italy, circa 1957 or so, and the lives of the tenants, Italian and American, are brilliantly caught in this treasure trove of marvels. Wittily written, it provides us with the crowded humanity that has always been Romethat eternal city filled with volatile lives densely packed into an endless humor.
Excerpt from The Palazzo
“You are waiting for someone?”
She wet her lips and nodded.
“Please allow me to introduce myself. I am the Marchese Salvini. Lorenzo Salvini.” He took out his wallet, pulled a card from it and handed it to her. Months before he had found a small stack of Lorenzo Salvini’s cards, secured by a rubber band, lying on the top of the rubbish Gino had put out to be collected. Some of them were yellowed, but he had salvaged a dozen or so from the center that were quite presentable. She dropped the card into her bag without looking at it, and Pippo made a mental note to retrieve it later. He had only a few left.
“I’m beginning to think the person I’m waiting for isn’t coming.” She craned her neck about to check on recent arrivals, and her breasts strained against their silken prison.
“I’d be very happy to give you a lift.” He realized now that she wasn’t wearing stockings, though when he had studied her from across the room, he had assumed she was, simply because her legs were so tanned. Furthermore, she wasn’t wearing a brassiere. She was, he would have bet his last lire, absolutely naked except for her dress. “I think you can be fairly sure your friend is not going to come.”
“He is very unreliable.” She pulled the coat from her arm and swung it around her shoulder.
“Your bags?” Pippo asked.
“There’s only this one.” She touched a small satchel on the floor with the toe of her shoe. “I’ve come down for some fittings and I’ll only be here overnight.”
Pippo had a struggle concealing his astonishment. He thought of his mother’s dressmaker, who came to their apartment, and the patterns and pins and material and thread that littered the dining table, This woman plainly dwelt on dizzy heights of luxury. He was glad he had chosen Lorenzo Salvini’s identity instead of a half-dozen others that he could lay claim to with the cards in his wallet. He picked up her bag and gripped her arm. “You have an appointment then?” he said, guiding her toward the door.
“At four,” she said.
“Ah, well. That’s a long time off. I, too, have an appointment this afternoon. But meanwhile we can have a leisurely lunch.” He waved the bag at Sergio as they approached the car. “No luck with my lost briefcase, but look what I found instead.” Sergio, who had been leaning against the Jaguar, stood up and registered surprise and pleasure. It had frequently been observed that Pippo and Sergio complemented each other because Pippo was dark and Sergio was fair, and Pippo was garrulous and Sergio was quiet. It was also true that Pippo was bright and that Sergio’s wits were ever so slightly blunted, and that this was the basis of their friendship. “My friend, Principe Borgia,” Pippo said.
“Sergio Borgia,” Sergio amended with aristocratic modesty. His responses weren’t up to coping with a first name that wasn’t his own.
“I am Amanda West,” the American woman said in her sleepy child’s voice.
“Sergio doesn’t speak English, I’m afraid,” said Pippo. “You speak Italian?”
“No. None. None at all.” Amanda said.
“Ah, what a pity,” he pretended. It was instead a great advantage to be able to converse with Sergio in a language she
didn’t understand. “Well,” he sighed, “I shall have to act as interpreter.” He got in beside Amanda and addressed Sergio in Italian. “You did bring the keys to the Fregene house. didn’t you?”
“Of course,” said Sergio.
§ § §