I'm reposting one of the very first exerpts from my novel that I put here almost exactly 2 years ago. It' good because it needs editing, but I'm not really sure exactly how. It's Nora's backstory. Btw, I also wanted to start some game or other, but was too exhausted to, I'll try to do it over the holidays :)
“Do you know why your name is Eleonora?” her father would ask in her first memomries. He was red-haired and freckled, and he would speak to her in a secret language, that of the country he came from, which was a northern island faraway, full of rain and fog.
When it rained in Nora’s house, it rained inside as well. Nora’s mama was a duchess, which made Nora proud but also a little puzzled, because in storybooks dukes and duchesses did not live in palaces where it rained inside, leaving large dark stains on the ceilings.
“…It’s because of Eleonora Pimentel-Fonseca!” her father would answer his own question, his funny accent stumbling on the syllables of the long name. “Like her, you’re a Neapolitan, but you have foreign origins. And like her, you shall do great things!”
As for Nora’s father, apparently he was a devil. Maybe that’s why he had red hair. To be precise, he was a devil incarnate. This was another thing he was fond of repeating, as if it were a reason of great pride. Inglese italianato è un diavolo incarnate. An Englishman Italianate is a devil incarnate.
When she was little, Nora did not manage to pronounce her own name entirely, and so with the passing of time Eleonora had remained Nora. And she eventually found out that Eleoonora Pimentel-Fonseca had indeed done great things, but she had ended up being hanged by the neck. It remained to be seen what Nora would do, the daughter of the Englishman and the penniless duchess.
She had taken the habit of walking by the shoreline, or entering museums, looking for British or American travellers who might be in need of a service of a guide or interpreter. It was preferable to teaching in a convent school or to marry another so-called noble with no money.
And that’s how she had met Juliet Hamilton and her mother. They seemed totally hypnotized by her double identity, as if Nora was some strange hybrid not found in nature. And they had encouraged her to come to visit them in London, to discover her British part.
Maybe at this point she would have found her path.
At first, she had raised great interest amongst Juliet’s friends, because she could tell without lying that she had grown up in a palazzo by the sea, and that her mother descended from an extremely ancient and noble family of Castillian origin. But it was her father who caused her problems now, since Nora was asked if she was related to those Abernathies of Sussex who had given the country to generals and a minister of agriculture. And to her disappointment, she’d discovered that the only uncle of hers who was still alive worked in a post office and lived in a dark apartment in an unattractive area of London.
Summer was ending, and in spite of the sky that darkened earlier and earlier Nora had no wish to return to Naples, go back to being the Englishman’s daughter and listen to Mussolini’s speeches on the radio. But she couldn’t help noticing that Juliet’s desire to take her around as if in triumph like some piece of exotica was diminishing, and she sensed an increasing irritation on the part of Juliet’s mother.
After all, she was not the only person scrounging on the Hamiltons. Often they received the visit at mealtimes of a cousin, an old colonial official who would tell anyone within earshot about the cartography of Punjab and the difficulty of hiring reliable native servants.
Nora started looking for a job, but she could not type and was too poorly dressed to find work in a boutique or a department store.
One afternoon, she was ambling idly in Hyde Park, looking at falling leaves, when she had the clear impression she was being followed. She turned around and saw the Hamiltons’ cousin, on whose insipid face was appearing an exaggerated smile. He began walking faster while she assumed an adequately outraged air.
“Good evening Miss Abernathy. I was actually looking for you…”
She was irritated by his aplomb. So he had followed her from home. “Uh, good evening, Major.” She mumbled, instead of saying something scandalized. “You could find me at the Hamiltons’, if you were looking for me.” She added.
“Indeed, but it’s not necessary that the Hamiltons know all what concerns us, don’t you think? Anyway, it’s to offer you a job. It’s a bit far away, but I think it will suit you. And I happen to know you need one.”
“What kind of job?”
“A job in a historical archive in Palestine. You should like it there, you’re half Italian, after all.”
Nora privately wondered why her being half Italian supposedly made her suitable to life in Palestine, but she said nothing
Formerly Known as Murasaki