La Brigantessa is based on true events in the aftermath of Italy's 1861 Unification, a turbulent period known as "The Decade of Fire" (1860-1870), when scores of brigands rebelled against the harsh policies imposed by the new government, which in turn ordered the destruction of these outlaws and anyone harbouring them. Gabriella Falcone is a peasant girl who works for Don Simone, the parish priest. She is forced to flee her hamlet of Camini in Calabria in 1862 after stabbing Alfonso Fantin, a wealthy landowner who sexually assaulted her. Devastated to leave her fiancé Tonino, and knowing her fate will be life imprisonment at best if apprehended, she allows the priest to lead her through the harsh Aspromonte mountain range to seek refuge in an isolated monastery. They soon discover that Fantin has survived and is employing the forces of law to pursue Gabriella and bring her to justice. Gabriella and Don Simone continue their journey to seek yet another safe haven but soon fall into the hands of brigands. Gabriella is catapulted into a world she has only ever heard about in nervous whispers, a world where right and wrong, justice and vengeance take on new meanings, and where the boundaries between good and evil are blurred. Gabriella is drawn into the role of brigantessa and discovers that the convictions she once held dear no longer have a place in this wild, unlawful territory.
Rosanna Micelotta Battigelli was born in Italy and immigrated to Canada with her family at three years of age. Rosanna started teaching children from Kindergarten to Grade 8 in both the English and French Immersion sectors in 1981, and has four provincial Best Practice Teaching Awards in recognition of her early literacy strategies and other initiatives. An alumna of the Humber School for Writers, her fiction has appeared in a dozen Canadian anthologies, including Mamma Mia: Good Italian Girls Talk Back (2004) and A Second Coming: Canadian Migration Fiction (2016). Since retiring from teaching in June 2015, Rosanna is pursuing her literary goals full-time. La Brigantessa is her debut novel. She lives in Sudbury, Ontario.
"This is a beautiful novel, one that vividly recreates the heartbreak and drama of one of the most turbulent periods in Italian history."
--Nino Ricci, award-winning author of The Origins of Species, Testament, and Sleep
"In the writing and storytelling of La Brigantessa, Rosanna Battigelli reflects the very passion and glory, the suffering and hope of the times that her Gabriella Falcone must endure and over which she must triumph. La Brigantessa is written with great heart and conviction--such that, in an era when truth is at a premium, no one will question the truth of this narrative. In fact, the great achievement of this novel is that Rosanna Battigelli is able to make fiction feel truer than truth, truer than non-fiction. Bravo!"
--Joseph Kertes, founder of The Humber School for Writers and author of GratitudeThe Afterlife of Stars
"Based on actual events, La Brigantessa is the triumphant, epic tale of a young woman's incredible courage and resilience during one of Italy's most tumultuous decades. This heart-wrenching, unforgettable novel was an addictive read that will stay with me for years."
&mdashl Mirella Sichirollo Patzer, author of The Orphan of the Olive Tree and The Prophetic Queen
"In this historically accurate novel, Rosanna Battigelli uses every detail from pigeon soup to Southern Italian traditions to bad omens, bad luck, and retaliation. As unpredictable as summer storm clouds, as enjoyable as homemade Calabrian sausages, you should read this book with a glass of strong red wine and a supply of baci chocolates."
--Maria Coletta McLean, author of My Father Came From Italy and Summers in Supino: Becoming Italian
"La Brigantessa is a feast for the senses. The author's visceral descriptions of events, both terrifying and exhilarating, instantly transport the reader to the sun-bleached hills of Post-Unification Calabria. The novel is a meditation on class, politics, and women's roles without losing sight of intrigue and adventure."
--Michaela Di Cesare, playwright and author of In Search of Mrs. PirandelloSuccessions