I started reading this book whilst on a holiday in Sicily late last year, and it beautifully portrays the unique world of that ancient island, a land of abandoned statues, overflowing gardens, bright baking sunlight, olives, lemons, flowers and pomegranates. Lampedusa’s classic work also helped me to better understand the lifestyle and attitudes of many Sicilians – slow, unhurried, suspicious of modernity and the mainland. Set in the mid-1800s, this work is a sad and nostalgic account of the last vestiges of aristocracy before the descent of democracy on to the reluctant island-state. The author, described in the book’s front blurb as a ‘literary dilettante’, wrote the book in his early sixties in 1957, just before he died of lung cancer. In a poignant parallel to the author’s imminent demise, the account in the book of the last dying hours of the protagonist Don Fabrizio is as fine a piece of writing as I’ve ever seen. Deserves the accolade of classic in my view.