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Rosnau sought answers to this question and many more in the pages of historical documents – and in walls and air of the Caetani family home.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

Chris Marchand
Survivors spread reconciliation with Vernon’s cultural partners

Cultural Safety Program facilitated by Syilx elders

(Submitted by Cassidi Markus)
Snow flurries forecasted for the Okanagan this weekend

Arctic front expected to bring colder than average temperatures and snow

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

The District of Lake Country closed down the controversial Airport Inn Lakeside motel in 2019. (Daniel Taylor - Black Press file)
Asking price for controversial Airport Inn in Lake Country dropped to $6.9M

‘Lake Country is too precious a place to not have something great there,’ Realtor says

Vernon’s Okanagan Spring Brewery rolled out its first product – Premium Lager – 35 years ago on Oct. 19, 1985. (Google Maps)
Cheers to Vernon’s Okanagan Spring Brewery

Company produced first brew 35 years ago on Oct. 19, 1985

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna man charged after allegedly stealing senior’s car

Elderly woman’s car was stolen while she was shopping

Salmon Arm RCMP say residents have been receiving calls from fraudster claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP warn of Publishers Clearing House telephone scam

Police say scammer requests fee to claim sweepstakes prizes

Osoyoos Fire Department responded to reports of a vehicle engulfed in flames Sunday (Oct. 18) evening at a Lambert Court residence. (Osoyoos Fire Department)
Osoyoos Fire Department knock down car fire near home

Blaze was ‘really close’ to becoming a structure fire

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

A file photo of an RCMP dog. (Campbell River RCMP photo)
Lawsuit claims Kelowna man suffered ‘vicious’ attack by RCMP dog, handler

Fernando Verde claims he was resuscitated at the hospital and needed emergency surgery following the attack

Most Read