Shopping Cart



Day 12

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Chapter 9 (through p.151: “are also quite capable.”)

March 4, 2023 by Michael F. Moore

In this second part of the novel, the action shifts to two locations south of Lake Como. First, to Monza, where Lucia and her mother seek refuge in a convent. Manzoni has some fun with the convention of not giving the name of real places or persons in a fictional work:

“The author of the manuscript… does [not] disclose the name of the town where Fra Cristoforo had directed the two women. Indeed, he refuses to do so quite explicitly… But my diligent research discovered through other sources things that the author’s circumspection had sought to hide… By piecing together these bits of information we can deduce, without a doubt, that it was Monza. In the vast treasury of educated guesses, there may well be more subtle possibilities, but none, I believe, that are more certain. We could also, on the basis of sound conjecture, say the name of the family with which Lucia became entangled. But although it has been extinct for some time, I thought it best to keep their name inside my pen, to avoid wronging the departed and to leave something for the educated to investigate.”

As I explain in my note on the historical characters at the end of the book, the Nun of Monza was a real person, Virginia Maria de Leyva y Marino (p. 654). But let me not give away her story just yet.

“‘The Signora,’ he replied, ‘is a nun, but a nun unlike the others.’”

Quite the understatement.

“From her face, she looked to be about twenty-five. Her appearance created an initial impression of beauty, but a dejected, faded, and, I would almost say, disheveled beauty.”

The accompanying illustration is no match for the portrait that Manzoni paints with words. The director Luchino Visconti had considered making a two-film adaptation of I promessi sposi, and then narrowed his focus to the nun. He did a screen test with the actress he wanted, Sophia Loren:

The actress recently said that her one regret was that the film was never made.

“Please, Father Guardian, do not speak to me in riddles. You must know that we nuns prefer to hear every detail of a story.”

A comic note as we begin one of the novel’s most moving episodes.

“Silence! I know a thing or two about parents always answering on their children’s behalf!”

In this build up to the nun’s story, the author sprinkles clues as to what led to the Signora being such an odd character.

Daily Reading

A Preview

A Preview

Day 1

Introduction & Chapter 1 (through pg. 13: "were still around.")

Day 2

Chapter 1 (to end)

Day 3

Chapter 2

Day 4

Chapter 3

Day 5

Chapter 4

Day 6

Chapter 5

Day 7

Chapter 6

Day 8

Chapter 7 (through p.108: “respective ranks.”)

Day 9

Chapter 7 (to end)

Day 10

Chapter 8 (through p.130: “the others filed behind him.”)

Day 11

Chapter 8 (to end)

Day 12

Chapter 9 (through p.151: “are also quite capable.”)

Day 13

Chapter 9 (to end)

Day 14

Chapter 10 (through p.174: “her closest relatives.”)

Day 15

Chapter 10 (to end)

Day 16

Chapter 11 (through p.193: “keep track of it.")

Day 17

Chapter 11 (to end)

Day 18

Chapter 12

Day 19

Chapter 13

Day 20

Chapter 14

Day 21

Chapter 15

Day 22

Chapter 16

Day 23

Chapter 17

Day 24

Chapter 18

Day 25

Chapter 19

Day 26

Chapter 20

Day 27

Chapter 21

Day 28

Chapter 22

Day 29

Chapter 23

Day 30

Chapter 24 (through p.396: “as soon as you’re ready.”)

Day 31

Chapter 24 (to end)

Day 32

Chapter 25

Day 33

Chapter 26

Day 34

Chapter 27

Day 35

Chapter 28 (through p.467: “their hands from hunger.”)

Day 36

Chapter 28 (to end)

Day 37

Chapter 29

Day 38

Chapter 30

Day 39

Chapter 31

Day 40

Chapter 32 (through p.534: “purpose of the conflict.”)

Day 41

Chapter 32 (to end)

Day 42

Chapter 33 (through p.554: “treatise on political economy.”)

Day 43

Chapter 33 (to end)

Day 44

Chapter 34 (through p.574: “the living were left.”)

Day 45

Chapter 34 (to end)

Day 46

Chapter 35

Day 47

Chapter 36

Day 48

Chapter 37

Day 49

Chapter 38

Sign up for A Public Space's Newsletter