This book was recommended - handed, actually - to me by a bloke in Oxfam, during an otherwise fruitless browse of their bookshelves. Being too polite (and curious) to dismiss someone's reading recommendation when the book in question was only 79 shiny pence, I did my bit for charity and bought the proffered copy and the unmistakable aroma of other people's houses that came with it. However, not having a clue what it was about, once home, it took a long time for it to work its way up from the bottom of my pile o' books, and it was almost six months after Mr. Random Gent bestowed his blessing upon it that I heaved the sigh one reserves for books one doesn't expect to get into, and got down to it. The Leopard is a rare creature (on my bookshelves, at least); Sicilian historical fiction. It chronicles the fortunes of the Prince of Salina's family, their romances, distractions and exquisitely ordered lives during the Italian Unification, particularly those of the principal character, Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, mathematician and astronomer, as he comes to understand what current events mean for the future of the aristocracy and his family. Despite a tendency towards the depressive, this is a rather beautiful book... I might be biased after encountering the word 'Squirearchy', but translated or not, the writing brings perfectly into mind the elegance, ostentation, and fragility of the Salina family's world. It is full of sad, warm affection, set perfectly against the cool march of history. Definitely worth reading. My thanks to the nice man in Oxfam. (I hope your daughter enjoyed playing with her Barbie horse).