DUE TO COME OUT JUNE 30
The novel opens with the aristocratic Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel pleading the High Court
of Naples to be beheaded instead of hanged like a criminal. A main revolutionary of her time,
Eleonora imagined a Republic inspired by the French Revolution. Imprisoned in 1799 after the return
of the Monarchy, and while waiting her sentencing, she writes a memoir about the adolescent
lover who abandoned her, Joseph Correia da Serra. While visiting Monticello as an adult, Joseph
accidentally finds Eleonora's manuscript in Thomas Jefferson's library. Now retired,
Jefferson needs to recruit European professors and offers Correia a position at the University
of Virginia, soon to open. As their friendship deepens, the two men share many intimate
secrets. The novel is told from Eleonora and Joseph's alternating points of view.
The two interwoven first-person narratives share many common moments. It follows the
characters from the elegant salons of Naples to the halls of Monticello, from the streets of European
capitals such as Lisbon, London and Paris to Philadelphia and the chic cocktail circuit
in Washington, DC. Eleonora and Joseph are both prominent figures of the Southern
European Enlightenment. Together with Thomas Jefferson, they are part of The Republic
of Letters, a network of thinkers who changed the face of the earth at the turn of the Eighteenth Century.
Following the strong tradition of Portuguese female writers, novelist Julieta Almeida Rodrigues brings to Eleonora and Joseph her experience of both the 1974 revolution in Portugal and her life in diplomatic circles around the world. The life of Joseph Correia da Serra has been the subject of biographies in Portuguese, while his contacts with Thomas Jefferson deserve to be explored in English. In addition, Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel's narration from prison is a striking frame from which to foreground issues of passion, patriarchy, inequality, slavery, and struggles for female independence.
A must read of imaginary lives in European and American intellectual circles at the turn of the 18th century!
Kenneth David Jackson, Professor of Portuguese, Yale University
Like Plutarch, Julieta Almeida Rodrigues gives us a book tuned into two voices. She aptly brings to light the much neglected Southern European Enlightnment, adding the irresistible Thomas Jefferson to plot and discussions. The social and moral issues that fall under scrutinty in this historical novel are well worth contemplating, and debating, in the twenty-first century.
José Sasportes, Portuguese Writer and Former Minister of Culture of Portugal
Eleonora and Joseph. Two distinct lives with parallel destinies, portrayed with literary and sociological imagination by Julieta Almeida Rodrigues. Lives that plunge us into Les Lumières, the French Revolution, and the apocalyptic events that followed. Thomas Jefferson gives this well-conceived story its beginning and its end. He introduces us to the lure of a century that glorified freedom without abolishing slavery, and that proclaimed equality without eliminating privilege. Remarkably, it is also a story about human nature and the unchanging ways of the world.
José Luís Cardoso, Research Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, The University of Lisbon and Fellow, Lisbon Academy of Sciences.
With a historian's gift for dogged research and a writer's eye for detail, Julieta Almeida Rodrigues brings to life the trajectories of two colorful eighteenth century characters, Eleanora Fonseca Pimentel and Joseph Correia de Serra. Lovers of historical fiction will enjoy their separate but entwined stories as they play out against the crumbling Neapolitan Republic.
Novelist Helene Stapinski. Author of Murder in Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family and Forgiveness in Southern Italy
New Academia Publishing