With Publication Day for The Secret fast approaching this Friday 1st June, I’d like to introduce some of the characters.
Carlo was born in 1945.
He lives with his mother Irena, his father having been killed in the war. Irena’s always busy in the kitchen and Carlo helps her, listening to her stories and watching her as she works and stealing a taste when she’s not looking.
Irena uses herbs for healing and knows remedies for all sorts of ailments. Carlo sometimes listens in on her consultations although he’s not supposed to.
Carlo and his friends feel like shadows growing up in Santa Zita. They keep out of the way of adults who look like crows because they’re always dressed in black. The children are aware their presence is painful to these people.
He and his friends are frightened of Martina. They know she’s done something very bad and her scarred face sends chills down his spine. He feels sorry for Sonia, Martina’s daughter but how can he ask Sonia to join in their games when so many of the games involve dodging her mother?
He knows there was a time before the war when the village had been thriving. He’s heard the stories about the restaurant, how it used to attract people from miles around.
Throughout his childhood the restaurant, along with the shop, bar and gelateria are all boarded up ghosts of buildings. The population dwindles every year.
Many of the houses around are empty too. Some have been reclaimed by nature. Others make fabulous dens for Carlo and his teenage friends.
His favourite of these is Villa Leonida.
But at 20 years old he sees no future for the village. So he’s excited to be given the opportunity to get out of Santa Zita and join his uncle in America.
He makes a success of things, rising to be head of a news empire. And yet there’s one story he’s never got to the bottom of – one that draws him back to Santa Zita in old age. As a child he was too scared to ask about the terrible event that happened in the village during the war. But he’s made a living out of asking difficult questions. And now that his mother’s showing signs of dementia he fears there will soon be no one left who can give him the answers.
Why did Martina betray the village, which led to the appalling incident? And why did his own mother, who’s never until now admitted to being Martina’s best friend, do nothing to stop her?