The child of poor farmers, La Mennulara became a maid for a well-to-do local family when she was only a girl; by dint of hard work and intelligence, she became the indispensable administrator of the family's affairs. Still, she was a mere servant, and now (as this story begins) she is dead.
As the details unfold about this mysterious woman, The Almond Picker assumes the witty suspense of a thriller, the emotional power of a love story, and the evocative atmosphere of a historical novel. Set in Sicily in the 1960s, a violent, complicated society in the midst of tumultuous change, The Almond Picker is the story of a woman who negotiated for her freedom as no one else dared.
With impressive technical skill, first-time author Hornby introduces a raft of characters in the first few chapters, laying out the intricate network of social relationships that enfolded Mennulara and the family she served … Rather than waxing indignant over the injustices that scarred Mennulara's life, Hornby invites us to appreciate the resilience and tenacity with which she confronted them. Whether or not she ever found real happiness -- that's the one question that remains tantalizingly unanswered -- the almond picker certainly carved out her own special niche in the stony, resistant Sicilian landscape.