ROMAN MURDER MYSTERY: The True Story of Pompilia
The bodies lay side by side on the black and white marble floor – the man, 69-year-old Pietro Comparini, on the left, his wife Violante, three years his junior, beside him. Early in the morning they had been carried through the chill air, still clad in bloodstained nightclothes from their house in the Via Vittoria . . . It had been said that the Comparini’s daughter Pompilia, only seventeen years old, had been found still alive near the bodies of er parents, and now lay dying in the care of the Augustinian Brothers. Everyone knew that she had recently fled from the house of her husband, Count Guido Franceschini, in Arezzo, and that when he had vome to Rome to fetch her back there had been a scandal – her parents had announced that she was illiterate, and the husband alleged she had been unfaithful with a handsome young priest with whom she had eloped . . .
The trial of Count Guido, the head of a noble but impoverished Tuscan family, for the murder of his wife and her parents caused a sensation in seventeenth century Rome. Some supported a man’s right to kill an adulterous wife; others protested Pompilia’s innocence. The case was argued again in Victorian Britain, when the poet Robert Borwning re-presented it in a book-length poem, ‘The Ring and the Book.’ But he presented the case very partially, and only now does Derek Parker reveal all the facts in an exciting story of child marriage, cruelty, elopement, torture and public execution.
Michael Dibdin writes: ‘This is a dramatic work of “true crime” packed with memorable and very recognisable characters, but also an in-depth portrait of Italy and especially Rome at one of its most colourful and least-known periods . . . Parker’s narrative has all the page-turning grip of a good thriller.’
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