Read, Piers Paul
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It is the late 18th century and Sicilian nobleman Vitello Scarpia finds himself penniless and in disgrace on the streets of Rome. After leaving his home in pursuit of a military career, his fiery passion has seen him expelled from the Spanish royal guard and left to seek his fortune in Italy; a fortune inseparably bound to the Pope, whose rule is put in question by the French Revolution.
Scarpia enrolls in the papal army and is soon taken up by a countess eager to have a handsome young officer at her side. She introduces Scarpia into Roman society, and he is both enthralled and agitated by its mix of religiosity, sophistication, decadence, and intrigue. Then, on a mission to Venice, he meets the gifted, beautiful singer Floria Tosca. And as the armies of revolutionary France advance into Italy, and war and revolution engulf the whole peninsula, these two lives become entwined.
Steeped in factual detail and exploring the lives--part historical, part fictional--of figures from Puccini's famous opera, Scarpia shines a light into dusty corridors of history and dark corners of the human soul.