The Trophy Bride’s Tale reviewed by fran lewis

The Trophy Bride’s Tale

Author: Cyrillia Barr


Publisher: Bascom Publishing

Abuse of any kind is wrong. Author Cyrillia Barr brings to light an issue that is not indicative of just the 16th century but the 21st as well. Too often men feel that they can hit, beat, berate and abuse a spouse without just cause making the person feel inferior or dejected. In “The Trophy Bride’s Tale,” Prudenza Beltramonto finds herself in a marital nightmare and her final actions might cost Prudenza her life.

Imagine being the bargaining chip in a business deal. Alfonso Beltramonto creates dyes for fabrics that are quite unique. But, without alum, the element needed to create these dyes his business would fail. His funds are depleted and the quality of the dyes and the alum received are inferior. In walks Matteo Cecchi and things are about to change. Forming an unholy alliance with smugglers he enlists the help of these men in order to gain the needed alum and hopefully win an even bigger prize: Prudenza. Formulating a diabolical plan in his mind he convinces her father that he will attain the necessary alum and the payment needed would be sufficient if he gives him his daughter’s hand in marriage. The money tucked away for her dowry to provide her with a safe haven for the future would be used to pay for the alum and she would be the final prize. Prudenza is truly a victim of poor circumstances and winds up in a no win situation.

Matteo Cecchi is a devious and clever man who uses his father’s name and friend with Alfonso, Prudenza’s father to bait him and convince him that he truly wants to marry her for the right reasons even though it is apparent that all he wants is the sum necessary to pay the brigands and his new band of smugglers the money needed for the alum so that he might profit. This will prove to be disastrous for Prudenza who is the pawn that is sacrificed in this plot. Pawns play a specific part in a game of chess and poor Prudenza in trying to please her parents and not disappoint them is naïve enough to think her choice will be right and is sacrificed in more ways than one as the reader will find out as the plot unfolds.

As Prudenza learns the terms of the marriage contract and she weds Matteo, she begins to sense a change in his real demeanor as she overhears him dealing with the men on the ship when traveling to Florence. But, with her companion Aunt Teresina, a wise woman, they journey into a whole new world the end is one you will not want to miss reading.

Trophies are given to the victor of a contest you when one wins a specific prize. Matteo Cecchi thought of Prudenza as nothing more than just that: a prize he won and a gift given to him as a result of a pact or contract made with her father in order to save his business. She was the price he paid for success. As the she learns more about him and observes his behavior Prudenza sees a different side of Matteo and realizes he is anything but kind. Becoming moody, jealous, belligerent and abusive to those that defy him, owe him a debt or get more attention than him his life takes on a new turn and hers becomes walking nightmare. He is truly what one might call in this day and age Bi Polar and has behavior changes that are totally erratic.

Throughout the novel the author reveals many aspects of Matteo’s personality that trigger his violence, bringing his insecurities to light and his malicious and malcontent behavior toward his workers, his wife and household. As Prudenza becomes more ensconced in her new family’s daily life and takes on the role of mistress of the house, she learns that her new mother-in-law will dominate much of what she would like to control and must acquiesce to her wishes including what she might think is best for her new born son. Living under this roof proves difficult and even more frightening as time goes on even though she has the loyalty of Gina her maid and friend, and learns about the loss of her best friend Coletta.

Matteo reveals his violent and abuse side as the truth about his pact with Alfonso is revealed to his father and once again he falters in his eyes behind that of his brother. Jealousies resurface, retaliations are made and Matteo’s true colors come forth as Prudenza fears for her life and that of her children.

The destruction of her lute, which brought her comfort and solace, the embarrassment in public and the abuse her children endured as his temper flared for no reason or he felt ignored and isolated added to the many reasons Prudenza cherished the friendship of Gina, the comfort of her mother’s understanding and a mother-in-law who tried to handle her son, but could not. With the death of Zenobi, her father-in-law Matteo’s lack of ability to handle the business and deal with his daily life came into play as his mood swings and personality deteriorated the detriment of everyone.

Prudenza withstood too much in her young life. With her faithful maid, Gina at her side guiding and helping her, she came to a forgone conclusion which would change the course of her life and her loved ones forever. How far would a mother go to protect the lives of her children and even more the rest of her family? Guided by her old friend Father Tommaso and the loyalty of so many others, her fate is sealed.

Read the events that took place prior to Matteo’s demise. Decide for yourself whether Prudenza’s actions were justified or not. Read the Lament written by her before she was taken to justice. Hear her words and read her thoughts in her own hand as she awaits the verdict of the judges.

Author Cyrillia Barr brings to light an issue that is quite prevalent in the 21st century, abuse. An arranged marriage by her father that went wrong. A man who hated the world for his shortcomings and could not take pleasure in the joys of others unless the center of attention and worked his way out of the hearts of everyone. Lacking the respect he thought he deserved, debasing his wife and children in public, Matteo Cecchi got what he deserved. You decide from the facts the author relates whether Prudenza’s fate was justified or not. A story of betrayal, loyalty, trust, friendship, hate, deceit and courage, this is one tale whose longevity will prevail. Characters that are clearly defined and whose roles are quite specific and clear- cut to the reader. Places and events whose descriptions are so vivid you can picture them in your mind and a woman whose emotional torment you feel every step of the way. Read the trial. Hear the words of the witnesses and feel the emotional pain that one young woman endured at the hands of a man who could not deal with success, life, family and accept love from those who truly cared for him.

The longevity of this tale will live on for quite some time. Abuse is wrong no matter what. To what lengths would you go to protect yourself and your loved ones from what Prudenza endured? Who was the real villian: Prudenza, Matteo or society not allowing a woman to stand up for herself against a man like Matteo?

A definite must read and a five star book.

Matteo de Cecchi: Victim or Victor: You Decide!

Fran Lewis: reviewer


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