This novel tells the life of an ordinary craftsman, coming from Piedmont in northern Italy, who climbed to the top of XVIIth century society, using his particular skills and a dose of luck.
In overcoming changes in his life, Joe progresses from producing Genoese black silk to, at last, the important production of arrases.
The story is set in the various locations and workshops of John’s life, from his small home town between the Langhe’s mountains in a region called Oltre Tanaro, to Genoa, then to Naples and finally Madrid.
The novel is completed with the story of his three children: the first a Spanish Naval officer, the second, his daughter, a brilliant painter, and the third who followed in his father’s footsteps.
Additional tales make the story more complicated e.g. episodes of the lives of some of his son’s friends and a description of his daughter’s Neapolitan artist friends.
The entire novel is rooted to important historical events, like the siege of Casalemonferrato, the riot instigated by Masanniello, the eruption of Vesuvio and the plague of Naples in 1656.
An insightful and engaging read . . . readers are transported to another life and times in this novel.