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Galileo Galilei - Siena


CanaDiana Meeting with the Authors

Keith Henderson speaks about his novel "Acqua Sacra"


Report by Niccolò Di Leo, II L

On the 13TH March in the framework of the ASL project “On Translation”, in cooperation with A.C. CanaDiana, there was a meeting with the Canadian author Keith Henderson, who talked about his novel “Acqua Sacra”.

The author was introduced by Giuliana Pendenza, Henderson’s wife. Her experience prompted the author to write this book. She was born in Rome but she had to leave her country at the age of six moving to Canada. When she returned back she restored a house and this masterpiece by Keith Henderson is based on this story. He is represented by three words starting with “P” which are: professor, because he has taught Canadian literature for 35 years, publisher and politician of a local party with a very strong and powerful Canadian message concerning the idea of “United Canada”. Then the torch was passed to the author. Keith Henderson seemed to be very focused on the metaphors of this book and he has been able to explain lots of things which were quite unclear at the beginning of the conference.

“Acqua Sacra” is a transatlantic novel, a real thriller which touches upon many elements typical of rural Abruzzo life. Suzanna Ricci is the main character of the book. She returns back to her hometown in Italy when her mother wants her to restore the house of their family, that was damaged by the earthquake of L’Aquila in 2009. Here, she finds lots of difficulties due to corruption and bad government. Acqua Sacra is the junction of many roads linked to many dishonest contexts, such as people close to the Libyan dictator and many Italian Mafiosi.

The main topic of this book is the relationship between normal life and the influence of corruption, as the author said. In Henderson’s opinion this kind of lifestyle has got two different attitudes. The first one regards the fact that this is not a life for young people, while the second one is that this is a very honest and rural life. This dichotomy is highlighted by the relationship between honest and modest people and Mafiosi. For instance, the author talked about two symbols: the chicken coop and a huge “Villa Romana”. The latter represents the opulence of these dishonest people who are the Mafiosi while the first one concerns the genuine life of Abruzzo people that, even if it is poor and simple, can be considered very beautiful and serene. Moreover, Henderson compared these people to sheep. This is because they can be guided by dangerous and aggressive people like the ones who drive very fast on the Italian highways. “They are not good shepherds” is what Keith Henderson said about the lack of good government. Suzanna is the means through which the author explains the concept of POGG, an acronym that can be easily found in the book. It stands for Peace, Order and Good Government. The author said that a good shepherd is the person capable of governing something, from a country to a normal county. In the 5TH chapter of this book there’s the episode of the marriage of two characters of the book, Vincenzo and Costanza: they are so rich that their honeymoon will take place in Dubai and these people are very far from the idea of good government that Henderson has given us.  

In the end of the book the author explains to us that not all rich people should be consider dishonest. For instance, in the epilogue Henderson hints at the story of Marie Antoinette who decided to live in a very modest house next to the French realm of Versailles even if she had the possibility to stay in the rich and wealth palace. 

In conclusion it is possible to say that this novel is very full of many deep messages that we should consider during our normal daily life. It is my solemn duty to say thank you to our English teacher, professor Failli, and the principal who has made this very useful and nice activity possible.



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