She Dances the Tarantella

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Celia R. Caputi

"High noon in a place where the sun-dial throws no shadow. High noon in a place named for this precise hour of day. Mezzogiorno: middle-day. As strange to her as Middle Earth. . . ." Sophia Corbellini arrives in the June heat with one suit-case, no return ticket, a smattering of Italian, and only a vague notion of her roots. She is twenty-six and a stranger to her body, prompted by circumstances to take refuge here in the south-eastern extremity of the Italian "boot," in a city whose beauty and antiquity speak to her on levels that she herself cannot fathom. One voice she hears clearly: the traditional music of the region. Primitive, uncanny, and infectious, the music and the legends in which it is enmeshed find embodiment in a beautiful dance instructor and musician named Vittorio, along with a tambourine with enigmatic marks on its skin. Will unraveling the history of the tambourine--and succumbing to her fascination with the one who best plays it--help her exorcise the memories that haunt her? Will its rhythms heal her, or only resurrect the anguish of her predecessors, those generations of women "bitten" by the passions their culture denied them?