Beatrice Masini
Tentativi di botanica degli affetti (The Watercolourist)
A novel, Bompiani, January 2013, 336 pages

Premio Selezione Campiello 2013
Premio Internazionale Alessandro Manzoni 2013

“A captivating novel … Beatrice Masini takes the reader with her grace and subtlety. A beautiful reflection on the meaning of what is possible and its surprises.”
Le Monde

“The writing is evocative, the main character engaging, and the landscape clear and lovely in the reader’s mind.”
Sydney Morning Herald

Set at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the North of Italy, The Watercolourist draws a rich portrait of family and social life from a time when the country was divided under the hegemony of various foreign governments. It’s a very important period in Italian history, with the uprising that woul lead to the turmoil of the “Risorgimento” and to the political unification of the country.
In her first novel for adult readers, Beatrice Masini, a much appreciated and internationally translated author of children books, as well as an editor at an important Italian publishing house, works historical facts into an atmospheric story of family ties, forbidden love and the coming of a new world.
At the center of the story is Bianca Pietra, a gifted young watercolor artist, who leaves her house on Lake Garda after her father’s death and moves to a magnificent villa near Milan. The place is wonderful, with a large garden in which the owner of the villa, a famous poet, practices experimental horticulture, importing and planting exotic species of trees and flowers.
Don Titta has invited Bianca to spend a few months at their house to illustrate all his exceptional plants. She will be paid for the job, which was quite unusual at that time. But Bianca is an independent young woman, full of grace and artistic talent. She is ready to accept any challenge. Readers will fully relate to her strong and intense character – her mixed emotions about her new life, the discovery of her sensual attractiveness, and her devotion to the teachings of her father, a British gentleman who had been deeply in love with Italy and used to travel with his daughter to instill in her a love of beauty and art.
Bianca settles in the magnificent Brusuglio residence. She soon finds out that she will need more than a few months to paint and explore the countryside, watching the slow changing of the seasons and listening to everything going on around her. Bianca becomes part of the poet’s large family, with his five children, his elegant and delicate wife and his powerful and authoritative mother. She observes the many people living in the villa or just visiting: the household staff, the nanny, the children’s tutor, but also don Titta’s friends, members of that aristocratic society secretly preparing a revolt against the foreign oppressor. The servants look at Bianca with suspicion, and the family friends with curiosity; she doesn’t belong to any of them. But she will feel a special tie with one little girl among the servants, trying to find out about her birth and her real father.
Following her naïve curiosity will take her too far into the territory of hidden secrets, of untold truths, and of love. And that is a dangerous game, because the botany of affections is not an exact science. It has no rules and might become deeply misleading.
A sophisticated exploration of a young nineteenth-century woman’s search for freedom, this novel will deeply engage the readers with its realistic, detailed style, its intricate imagery and the richness of its themes.
Powerful pages about botany, the art of drawing, the care of children, the beauty of the ladies’ dresses, written with lightness, poetry and sensitivity, in a terse, spellbinding and luminous prose, with a keen sense of time flowing.
Masini’s careful and compelling storytelling brings her characters uniquely alive, as she weaves a narrative of rare grace and subtlety into a sensual tapestry of local nuance and atmosphere.

Beatrice Masini

Beatrice Masini - © Isabelle Boccon-Gibod

Beatrice Masini was born and lives in Milan. She is a successful writer of books for children and teens, translated into over 20 languages, from Finnish to Thai. Working as an editor in an Italian publishing group, she also translated books such as the Harry Potter saga by J. K. Rowling. Among her works, La spada e il cuore. Donne della Bibbia (2003, Premio Elsa Morante Ragazzi 2004) and Signore e signorine. Corale greca (2002, Premio Pippi 2004). In 2004 she received the prestigious Andersen Prize as best children’s author of the year. Her first novel for the adult readership is Tentativi di botanica degli affetti (2013, Premio Selezione Campiello), followed by I nomi che diamo alle cose (2016) and the short story collection Più grande la paura (2019).

 

 

 

“A captivating novel … Beatrice Masini takes the reader with her grace and subtlety. A beautiful reflection on the meaning of what is possible and its surprises.”
Le Monde

“A seducing novel, full of atmosphere.”
Le Monde des Livres

“The writing is evocative, the main character engaging, and the landscape clear and lovely in the reader’s mind.”
Sydney Morning Herald

“A novel attracting for its skillful weaving of a complex plot, chasing its enigmatic wires to a surprising open-end.”
TuttoLibri

“An atmosphere that reminds the English countryside of Jane Austen, a poetic novel that makes the reader escape to the lazy beauty of the countryside and to the naivety of the first love.”
Donna Moderna

“Bianca is reminiscent of both Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice and the Jo March of Little Women.”
Il Sole 24 Ore

“Fascinating… through the botany of affections, an inexact science, a young woman is facing the world’s different voices  to become free and independent.”
Corriere della Sera

“There’s something of Manzoni, and of his mother Giulia Beccaria, with a skeleton in her closet… there is Darwin and the strength of his evolution… there are the heartbeats of the youngest Brontë sister, Ann with her Agnes Grey… there is Masini’s great and magic ability to speak to children, even if this time she talks to adults… and, as in Rowling’s Casual Vacancy, children are the best part of the story.”
la Repubblica

“I love it, because its author is a little magic (she is the translator of Harry Potter books).”
Amica

Foreign rights sold in
Canada: Éditions Fides
France: Éditions des Deux Terres, Le Livre de Poche
Spain: Salamandra
US and UK: Macmillan

Italian and international edition

Foreign publishers of Beatrice Masini’s works
Canada: Éditions Fides
France: Éditions des Deux Terres, Le Livre de Poche
Spain: Salamandra
US and UK: Macmillan

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