by Melinda Gallo

A special event at the Palazzo Tornabuoni

I was invited by a friend to attend a special event at the Palazzo Tornabuoni yesterday that was reserved for club members. The biographer Victoria Glendinning and the literary agent Al Zukerman were scheduled to speak informally to a small group of people. I arrived early to the Palazzo Tornabuoni and was greeted by the man at the door. After finding my name on his list, another man escorted me inside to the elevator and told me to go to the first floor. Another man who took the elevator up showed me the way to the luxurious library with couches, chairs, and tables organized in small groups. The room was lined with books organized by subject, which was shown at the top of the bookshelf. There was a bar at the end of the library with two men who greeted me when I walked in. I had arrived early and settled myself down on a couch that faced one of the walls of books.

The man from the elevator asked me if I wanted anything to drink, but I declined. I was enjoying the quiet library and the beautiful surroundings. Within a few minutes, he walked past me again and dropped off a glass of prosecco.

People slowly started to trickle into the library and headed straight for the bar. When they passed by me, they greeted me either in Italian or English. A couple sat next to me and after about ten minutes, I finally struck up a conversation with them.

We were called into another room where the speakers would be. There were two large red chairs that were facing two rows of chairs in the shape of a half moon. I couldn't help but notice the details of the Palazzo Strozzi peeking through the tall windows behind us.

Shortly after the two speakers were introduced, the crowd went quiet and Ms. Glendinning began talking about the people she has written about and her research that led her to Florence. I was intrigued when she said that the emotional and social Florence goes on forever. Unfortunately I am not acquainted with Ms. Glendinning's books or her subjects very well, but I am now interested in reading up on them.

After Ms. Glendinning's interesting talk, Mr. Zukerman spoke to us about how literary agents help authors to publish their books. As an example, he told us how he assisted Ken Follett with his novel "Eye of the Needle" to enhance a character's role in the book. He made a comment that stuck with me: Authors think their books are better and more valuable than they really are while publishers think the same books are less commercial and valuable than they really are.

To finish off the evening, we were all invited to an aperitivo in the library where we could chat informally with the two speakers. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay because I had to head out to celebrate my husband's birthday. I would've liked to have listened to more of what they had to say.

I was so pleased to have attended the private event even though my two girlfriends couldn't make it. I enjoyed listening to the speakers and being in such a stunning palazzo to do so.

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