Hello and welcome to my website, I am a freelance writer and try to be a poet.
This is the cover of my latest book which is set in Sardinia in 1855. Children of the Mists is a story of enduring love. Set in the 1800s, life on Sardinia had barely changed since the time of the Caesars. Two families, the Sannas and the Canus, are united by friendship and honour; love and laughter; joy and promises; omens and superstitions; youth and experience transcend generations. However, for Raefella and Antonio, their passionate love becomes entangled with revenge. Death changes devotion. Promises are forgotten. Vendettas cannot be ignored. Ambition clouds judgments. Antonio and Raefella were promised to each other, nothing would keep them apart, not even family. Committed to each other, they fight for their love against all odds…
The new cover for Children of the Mists
I am happy to say that my second book, also set in Sardinia, but in 1855, will be ready for publication on 28th May 2016. This book has required a lot of research, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. People have been extremely generous with their time and help, and I have made many new friends from the work.
Praise for Children of the Mists: “A love story that will win the hearts of readers with its many dimensions. An entertaining love story that will captivate the readers with its romance, passion, revenge and honour…” – Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favourite
I hope that my wonderful fans and friends will enjoy this book as much as they did my first one.
Published By: Matador
Date Published: June 28, 2016
Sometimes love breeds vengeance, vengeance breeds tragedy, and tragedy, in turn, breeds love again. Set in Sardinia between the years 1855 and 1860 and divided into two parts, everything comes full circle in Children of the Mists by Lexa Dudley. More than anything else, Dudley shows us exactly what transpires before one generation of Sards makes way for the next, and how it is that, no matter how terra incognita we might figure some culture to be, it is just as powerful, wonderful, and pulsating as every other.
Raffaella Canu had been sent to Itteri for a decent education. Gestinu, her father, had high hopes for her future. Whatever they were, Raffaella only wished for one thing: to be with Antonio, the shepherd boy she had loved since childhood. Orlando, her brother, however, doesn’t want Antonio in his sister’s future. To Orlando, his sister is still just as soft-witted as she was before she went to Itteri. She could have a wonderful life if she would just see reason and agree to marry Luigi, a prominent doctor who also happens to be his best friend. It might take more than a promise for Raffaella to finally be with the man of her dreams.
Change is a thing that dwells just between the realms of good and bad, unbiased and final. For some, change can mean a new, more wonderful life. For others, it can only mean more misery. For the Sardinians in this novel, change means abiding to laws that are not their own, but the laws of some king who is out to unite every single Italian state so that everyone “can prosper as one country”. The Sards have land, but there are those who would take it away from them within the blink of an eye. One misstep and a language known as legalese renders them fugitives, after which they are hunted by the Carabineri or doomed to the nullified life of a bandit.
The first part, starting at 1855, introduces us to the lifestyle and customs of the Sards. We are introduced to the Sannas and the Canus, and can easily see how the lives of these two families are connected. “Vitoria and Orlando were promised to each other in marriage; in a contract made between Gestinu and Salvatore, as Salvatore had saved his friend’s life when he first came to live in the mountains.” In the second part, three years after cholera made its way into their lives, the stage is set for a beautiful tale of love, vengeance, and redemption.
It doesn’t take much to imagine Sardinia and all of its beauty. “Although she couldn’t see the river, Raffaella could hear it in the valley below as it grumbled and chattered its way over a bed of shiny, cold, grey stones; as it bubbled in the ravine with the fullness of extra water from the melted snows of the distant, haze-green mountains.” We are taken to ravines, caves, small churches, and bedrooms in which the very light of dawn that enters it is graced by the author. Refined human life is faraway, neither important to the reader nor more desirable than Dudley’s craftily recreated setting.
There is more than one love story, the one towering over every other in the book of course being that of Raffaella and Antonio. They have loved each other since childhood, and a doctor with “clammy” hands can be seen as the hand that aims to snatch cupid’s arrow out of the air just before it strikes its target. Another love story is that of Marina, who is Antonio’s little sister, and a bandit named Gavinu. Dudley also throws in an unexpected romance that I found to be quite a surprise. Because of the alternating third person narrative, we get to follow each of them without much of a fuss.
Raffaella might be the main protagonist, but it is the characters around her, what with her just wanting to be with Antonio and all, that keeps things interesting. Even Sergio, an old shepherd, can make one burst out laughing when he works on the nerves of Orlando with his superstitious babbling. Small characters get to play pivotal roles to move the story along to its dreaded, and I mean this in a positive way, conclusion. Gabriella, Antonio’s mother, is the character through which we can get a lot of information about the Sard culture. She is important to the community, a healer who gets called upon many Sards when they fall ill.
Orlando is the personification of ambition, making decisions based purely on logic rather than love. While not the main antagonist, he is perhaps the main reason for all the conflict and heartache in this novel. He is not an evil human being, but for some reason, his destiny doesn’t seem to be one that is filled with happiness. “’You’re cursed, you’re cursed,’ repeated the shepherd, whimpering.” His decisions tend not to end up well. When one looks at his development in the book, it’s easy to see how the author took great care with him.
The theme of change and the different outcomes it has for different people was well explored. Raffaella was proud of her homeland and to her change didn’t involve a life away from her home and married to a doctor. Orlando was exactly the opposite. Change was his way of forgetting the past. Other themes like vengeance and redemption also played a big part. The Sards seems to have a particular notion when it comes to revenge. “As a fellow Sard, you must know the importance of revenge.” Orlando himself seemed to encompass almost every theme book, which, considering that he is not the main protagonist, only leads me to wonder why.
I got a lot from this book. I got laughs and I got tears. I got to experience Sardinia from 1855 to 1860 and all its greatness. I could see greenery, mountains, and people in love. I felt that I was reading a wonderful romance novel set in a magical place.
I reviewed this book for Readers’ Favorite and extended the review for my blog.
My Rating: 5 out of 5.
Buy on Amazon
On Friday 13th March 2016 My dear friend and amazing artist died. He will be missed by all his friends and by everyone who lives he touched. Rest in Peace and may your voice always resound in your stones.
Spring Festival in Sardinia Sagra di Sant Efisio 1st May 2016
By Lexa Dudley
The scent of rose petals, scattered on the streets, hangs in the warm morning. There is an overwhelming air of excitement as people chatter, and music plays while they wait for the great Sardinian festival of Saint Efisio. This event attracts people from all over the world; and this, the 360th year, UNESCO have given it International status by the Intangible Cultural Heritage, making it even more special.
Efisio a young Roman soldier was sent to Sardinia, by the Diocletian Caesar, to put down Christianity on the island, but on the way to the island from Rome, he had a vision of a huge cross in the sky. Believing it to be a sign from God; he converted to Christianity and began preaching the gospel to the nonbelievers.
Caesar recalled him to Rome on many occasions, but Efisio refused to leave the island or the people he had come to love. But when Caesar Flavian came to power, he ordered the death of the young soldier.
Efisio was imprisoned in Cagliari, where he prayed for its citizens, and the town, to keep it safe from its enemies.
After he refused to give up his faith, Efisio was taken, in secret, to Nora and on 3rd January 303AD he was beheaded. Where, later, they built the little church on the beach at Nora.
When the plague ravished the town of Cagliari in 1656, killing vast numbers of people; the citizens prayed to their Saint Efisio for help. They believed that any prayer to the Saint, said between the city walls, would be answered. A year later, the plague left the city, and the people vowed to mark the miracle with an annual festival in his honour.
Every 1st May the saint, dressed in his finest robes, is taken from the little church in Stampace, which bears his name, and makes the journey to Nora. The carriage stops at Sant Giorgino, a little fishing village, where his clothes are replaced by plain ones and all the jewellery removed and he is placed in the ‘the country coach’. The journey continues to the chapel at villa d’Orri where it receives a Eucharist blessing. On to Sarroch to the little church of Santa Vittoria for a mass.
The second day the coach arrives at Villa San Pietro, arriving at Pula around midday where it is met by the mayor of Pula. On to the church of San Giovanni Battista for another mass. After a brief stop at the church of San Raimondo, it is escorted to Nora arriving about 9 at night. The statue is placed in a niche for the third day for the celebration of another mass. In the evening, the statue is taken out of the coach and carried to the place of his martyrdom.
On the fourth night, the saint is redressed and returned to Cagliari with a candlelit procession.
Before the dressing In his festival dress
The day of the procession starts with a wonderful display of traccus, decorated carts pulled by large bullocks, which have their horns elaborately decorated with fresh and paper flowers. Each cart representing a different town from all over the island.
Following the carts are the men, women and children, all in traditional costume.
Old men playing the Launaddas, the ancient reed pipes, young men in groups, or with their wives and children, all dressed in their colourful costumes, handed down from generation to generation.
The women are elegant and carry themselves erect, from the habit of carrying water, pots or firewood on their heads.
Flashing gold and silver heirlooms dazzle and shine against nut-brown skins or starched white shirts with hand embroidered waistcoats and skirts.
Next come the men on horseback. Matching chestnut or grey horses with bells on their harness that jangle and tinkle to every movement of the horses in the morning heat, their coats oiled and groomed to perfection.
Some men ride with their wives up behind them; their pleated dresses spread over the rump of the horse.
Then come the women and the men carrying large baskets of rose petals, and carpet the road. They fill the air with the rich scent as they are crushed underfoot by the priests, dignitaries and the Carabinieri on horseback, in their distinctive uniform with white cross bands and red hackled hats.
Finally, the golden coach comes into view; pulled by two giant bullocks and decorated with flowers and horn coverings. Surrounded by the Guardiana who are the religious order of the saint. As the saint comes into sight, all the crowds cheer and the ships in the nearby port sound their sirens.
The air becomes electric as the faithful surge forward. Young and old eager to touch the Saint, or with rosaries in their hands, kneel in the street in prayer. Whether a believer or not I defy you not to be moved by the scene that unfolds before you.
However many times you see this festival. It never fails to excite, as faith and tradition come together in pure devotion, and all the wonderful sights, sounds and colours, fill your senses, leaving you with a memory which is both lasting and profound.
Photos with kind permission of Giampiero Melis and from my own collection
Further information on the festival
I have written and published my first novel ‘The Whispering Wind’ and am now working on my second one. It is also set in Sardinia, but in 1855 and has taken quite a bit of research, which I love.
Sardinia is a magical island and I hope to impart some of its enchantment to the reader in my books.
Please feel free to comment as I love feedback from my readers.
Author of ‘The Whispering Wind’
‘The Whispering Wind’ is a moving story of two lovers, set on the beautiful island of Sardinia, where Elise goes on holiday to escape a loveless and violent marriage. Elise and Beppe embark on a passionate affair until fate suddenly intervenes…
Sussurri nel Vento I am happy to say that The Whispering Wind has been translated into Italian and is available on Amazon etc.
Book review from Hannah Fielding
“I adore the author’s writing style; her ability to evocatively convey the setting. There is so much colour and passion and feeling in her writing: she’s a romance writer par excellence.
The story drew me in from the beginning, so much so that I read the book in just two sittings – I couldn’t put it down. I love the characterisation, especially of the local Sardinian people. I love the depth to the character of Elise and her journey to find herself, and to heal her heart, after her abusive marriage. I love the hero of the book, Beppe, and find him so real as a person that he seems alive beyond the words on the page. I love the development of Beppe and Elise’s relationship, and the attention the author pays to exploring their feelings.
No doubt you’re spotting a theme: I love this book!”