The White Witch – An Irish story – by Francesca Diano

The Italian 2010 edition of La Strega Bianca – una storia irlandese (The White Witch – an Irish story) by Francesca Diano

(C) Copyright by Francesca Diano

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The White  Witch

an Irish story

a novel by

Francesca Diano




A long journey through Ireland on a very special quest: a mystery to be unveiled. A love story that belongs to another life. A surprising encounter with  a woman, who is both a witch and a psychic: the White Witch. She  will help raising the veil hiding Sofia’s past.

The beauty and magic of the island will disclose the secret female power, the healing power of the Great Mother Goddess, as agents of a total transformation.

That of  Sofia  is a journey   through time and space, doubled by a journey inside herself.

Thanks to the beauty of a nature still intact, of the rich tradition of myths and legends, surrounded by a world of magic appeal,Sofia discovers a part of herself still unknown.

Sofia comes to Ireland leaving behind a frustrating relationship and a life of sorrows and painful experiences, bringing with her a deep love for this land,  a thirst to know, and the ability to see.

The events of her present life intertwine with flashbacks of a distant past, like in a riddle to be solved.

Visions of past lives, recollections of past events of her present life, mixed together, shifting from one place to the other, from one time to the other, create a fluid reality, where all boundaries are dissolved.

Reality becomes transparent. A see-through wall. So that Sofia will discover the truth hidden behind reality.

And it is in this magic island that the Great Goddess will disclose her healing power.

While meeting the various characters in her new homeland,Sofia recalls people and events of her life, and all the things that were before unclear and confused,  will acquire a new meaning and place through the unexpected events of her new life.

Cork, Cobh, Dublin, Monkstown, the Killarney lakes, Glandore, the National Museum, are all for Sofia places of learning and discovery. Each of them is a centre.

And, in Ireland,  Sofia will find the mother she never had.

The chance finding  of a precious, unknown  drawing by Daniel Maclise, will lead her to the  love she was waiting for since all her life, but, most of all, she will find herself, as a whole and new being.

The special structure  of the novel, like a Chinese box, is intended  to recreate   that unique  sense of time and space of the ancient Celts and of the mythological and oral narration. A circular  time, where past and present are at the same level, where there is no centre and yet the centre is everywhere.

Embedded into the prose writing, are some poems, as poetry was the choice required by writing  at that special point,  to express the deepness of  the distant past.

This is a  story where the female principle and archetype  play a central role.

And it is in this magical island that the healing power of the Great Mother Goddess will emerge and work her healing magic.

Ireland, its people, its myths, and its landscapes become the means and agents of a  rebirth.

All the unanswered questions that Sofia brings with her toIreland, will find their answers. All the pieces of the puzzle will fit, one by one, at the end.

Where is the bay she keeps seeing in her vision? Who is the man on the yacht she has been seeing  all her life sailing on that bay? Why is Ireland so special to her? What is she to find there? All these questions will get their answers.

In the novel’s circular structure, inspired by the Celtic vision of time, beginning and end coincide, so that the beginning is also the end.

And, of course, the end is not the end, but just a new beginning….

FRANCESCA DIANO was born in Rome in 1948. Her father, the famous  philosopher and scholar of ancient Greek, Carlo Diano, professor of Greek Literature and philosophy at the University of Padua, had a great influence on her education and studies, especially as regarding her interest in mythology and ancient cultures.

In 1971 she graduated Magna cum Laude in History of Art at Padua University. In the Seventies she  lived for some time first in Oxford, where she did research on medieval Italian illuminated manuscripts and later for some years in London, where she held courses of Italian Art at the Italian Institute of Culture and worked at the Courtauld Insitute.

In 1997/98 she lectured Italian at University College Cork.

From 1981  she’s a literary translator, working in the years  for well known Italian publishers, like Cappelli Fratelli Fabbri, Neri Pozza, Guanda. Among her authors are: Thomas Crofton Croker, (Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland), Anita Nair, Sudhir Kakar, Themina Durrani, Susan Vreeland, Uzma Khan, Kushwant  Singh, Pico Iyer, Geraldine Brooks etc. She has also translated, among others,  poems by the two Irish leading poets, James Harpur and Gerard Hanberry.

She is the official Italian  translator of all works of the best seller  Indian author  Anita Nair.

Irish folklore and oral tradition are among  her main interests, born  when in 1973 she was so lucky to find  in London one of the few and very rare  original copies of the  1825 first edition of  T.C.Croker’s Fairy Legends .

In 1998 she was the curator for the Collins Press, Cork, of the facsimile edition of 1825 T.C.Croker’s Fairy Legends, the one in her possession. Such  edition was released to celebrate the bicentenary of Croker’s birth. On that occasion she was interviewed  by the Irish Times   about her interest for T.C.Croker and Irish folklore.

Her  Italian translation of Croker’s work, enriched by her  long introduction (published by Neri Pozza  with the Italian title Leggende di Fate e Tradizioni irlandesi)  was also launched at the Irish Embassy inRome, on the personal invitation of the Ambassador and had several reprints and different editions.

She lectures extensively on art, literature, translation studies  (University Alma Mater in Bologna) and Irish folklore. Her essays and articles on Irish folklore have been published on journals and newspapers.

She writes poetry in Italian and English, short stories, essays and is  of course still active as an Art critic, writing essays on some Italian well known artists

In 2012 she was awarded the most important Italian Literary Prize for a short story, the Premio Teramo. In 2013 she published a collection of short stories, Fiabe d’amor crudele (Tales of cruel love) Edizioni La Gru and soon a collection of her poems will be released by the same publisher.