Passion is like an arcane legend, and the tale it tells has the testimonial impact of myth.
Author: Pirkko Saisio
Swedish original: Passio
Publisher: Siltala, 2021
Number of pages: c. 700 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample, English synopsis
It is May and the dawn of the 16th century. Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola has been hanged and burned at the stake at the Piazza della Signoria. The fanatical ascetic nightmare has ended, Florence has been resurrected, and Princess Vasari can once again dress according to her rank and adorn herself in the extravagant necklace her husband has given her.
She knows the reason for the prince’s generous gift but locks the painful secret in her breast. Ultimately the necklace is buried with her, but the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil does not rest long in the somber quiet of the tomb.
Half a century later, the goldsmith Yakob Masri hides the necklace beneath the plank floor of his workshop in the Cannaregio ghetto of Venice. Persecuted as Jews, he and his family must flee, and their long journey ends in Hapsburg Vienna.
But the now-transformed piece of jewelry changes owners again over the centuries, traveling to Krakow and further north, ultimately to Finland.
Passion is a grand vision: a color-saturated, Tarkovskian chronicle of Europe centered on life’s purpose and the search for meaning. Spiritual seeking, faith, and ideology sustain all of us, but for some, a shared bloodline and heartbeat are the sole saving grace in the survival struggle known as life.
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