The Cleaver


This is the disturbing yet fascinating story of one family’s struggle with the plague but also a novel about butchering animals and eating meat, about old and modern plagues on the backdrop of medieval Florence.

After Boccaccio’s Decameron, The Cleaver is the only Italian work of fiction about the Plague in Florence in 1348.

In 14th century Florence, swarming with life and yards, the little Torello, after crossing the streets of craftsmen, is lost in the maze of the streets of the Old Market and, after seeing a cow slaughtered, he decides his craft. He will be a butcher.

The years pass, Torello grows, becomes an apprentice and finally opens his own shop in Sant’Ambrogio, while around him the Cathedral and the bell tower continue to grow and the big banks of the Bardi and Peruzzi vacillate and fall. He marries a first time and becomes the father of a strong and red haired child who will be called Orso, his wife dies of childbirth and he has to leave the child to a wealthier family in exchange for a cart and a horse. With the strength of youth he continues to work, he meets another woman and puts a new child into the world. The child will be born monstrous and will be rescued by the mother who will hide it in a village outside the town in her grandfather’s home. Lupo will grow there, lonely and away from the father’s butcher shop and animal blood. His grandfather, Gerundio, will take care of him to make him a wise astrologer and alchemist. For many years life in the butcher’s house will flow serene and comfortable, he has become the leader of the corporation, has earned respect by his peers, he has a son who follows his footsteps, and everything that does not have to be seen grows well hidden. Meanwhile in the city, the struggles between White and Black Guelphs continue to infuriate, and the blood runs unnecessarily through the streets.

Almost at the middle of the century Torello feels he is approaching death and summoning all his three sons to his bedside. The  butcher’s funeral will be one of the last ones to be celebrated in the city for a natural death.

The Great Assassin has arrived, the Plague, coming directly from the city of Caffa by way of the sea, has climbed Italy and is ready for harvesting. No one has ever seen it, no one will ever forget it. Ultimately, it will be Lupo, the monstrous son, to foresee the events and help the family to escape the peril. At least for a while…

Rights Sold: Italy [Odoya – Meridiano Zero]

Original Italian Full Download


Genre: Fiction, Historical Novels