Laisha Rosnau will debut her new book, Little Fortress, at the Caetani Centre in Vernon on Oct. 3. (Submitted photo)

Laisha Rosnau will debut her new book, Little Fortress, at the Caetani Centre in Vernon on Oct. 3. (Submitted photo)

Vernon author’s new historical novel an exploration of the Caetani family

Laisha Rosnau’s second novel, Little Fortress, will be launched Oct. 3 at the Caetani Cultural Centre

Laisha Rosnau has been referred to as a “CanLit star” since penning her first novel, The Sudden Weight of Snow, way back in 2002.

Now, the Vernon-based author is launching her second novel, Little Fortress, at the Caetani Cultural Centre – a fitting venue, given that the Caetani family’s history figures strongly into her latest work of fiction. Rosnau’s book launch will take place on Oct. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m at the centre.

Based on a remarkable true Canadian story from the 1920s, Little Fortress tells the story of three women: the agoraphobic Countess Ofelia Caetani; her daughter, the bright and artistic Sveva Caetani; and their trusted secretary Miss Juul.

The Caetanis were a family of Italian nobility, driven out of their home by the rise of fascism. They settled in Vernon but made frequent trips to big cities around the world, giving the novel both a localized and international scope.

For 25 years, Ofelia kept her daughter as little more than a prisoner in her own home, increasingly relying on Miss Juul to maintain their strange lifestyle. Rosnau depicts how these three different women navigated still-relevant social concerns in a way that speaks to contemporary questions of control, female connections, immigration and social turmoil.

“What fascinated me as a novelist” says Rosnau, “was how did these women who led these really large lives – these lives that took place all over the world – come to then seclude themselves in a house on Pleasant Valley Road for 25 years?”

READ MORE: Vernon writer offers readers a ‘little bit’ of herself

Rosnau sought answers to this question and many more in the pages of historical documents – and in walls and air of the Caetani family home. Rosnau completed parts of the novel as a writer on residence at the Centre.

“For six or more months I wrote the novel on the grounds at the Caetani House, and it was a really productive, magical time,” she says.

“I also felt superstitiously that if the women I was writing about had anything to say from the other side, they were going to let me know,” she added with a laugh.

Supposing for a moment that the Caetani girls could and did have anything to say to Rosnau, it must have been something along the lines of approval, as Rosnau says writing Little Fortress came without any barriers despite the novel being nine years in the making.

Author of half a dozen works of short poetry, Rosnau recently won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and was nominated for the Pat Lowther Award and three CBC literary awards, among others.

At the book launch, Rosnau will be speaking about the things that drew her to the historic and eccentric Caetani family, and how she managed to bring their story to life. She’ll discuss the importance and difficulties of telling candid, tough stories about female relationships, the consequences of immigration and isolation on communities, families and individuals. She’ll even delve into the future of CanLit as she sees it and how her recent acclaim has shaped her practice as a writer.

READ MORE: Artist Robert Amos paints Victoria


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Books

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Thirty-four unionized workers represented by MoveUp started rotating job action at VantageOne Credit Union's two Vernon locations Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. Workers are calling for basic job protection and fair security. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
VantageOne staff urged to take tentative deal in Vernon

It’s been more than one month since union workers went on strike

A part-time staff member at Vernon’s Chartwell Carrington Place Retirement Residence has tested positive for COVID-19, the seniors home’s general manager said Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (Chartwell photo)
COVID-19 case confirmed at Vernon seniors home

An employee at Carrington Place has tested positive; Interior Health is not declaring an outbreak

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon COVID-19 care home deaths now up to 13

Another member of Noric House has passed

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Bernie Sanders at Kal Lake. (5iveby5ive)
PHOTOS: Bernie in Vernon

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has once again delighted the internet with his insta-meme status

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Kevin Lee Barrett is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. (Facebook)
Court hears of victim’s injuries in West Kelowna attempted murder trial

Two-week-long trial continues for Kevin Barrett, accused of trying to kill mother in West Kelowna

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A mother hold hands with her daughter while sharing about her struggles with addiction during Overdose Awareness Day. (Jesse Major/Black Press file)
Overdose and suicide support group starts in Penticton

Penticton was one of the province’s communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis in 2020

The steel mills in the Hamilton waterfront harbour are shown in Hamilton, Ont., on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Dyer: Stay the course on Carbon pricing

Kristy Dyer has a background in art and physics and consulted for Silicon Valley

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Voting is the number one, bare minimum way to have your voice heard by government. (File photo)
Jocelyn’s Jottings: Want to make change? Here are some suggestions

As a citizen you have a voice, you just have to know who to talk to

Most Read