Book: The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Caseycategories: Book, Suspense, Young Adult, Orphan, Orphanage, Voynich Manuscript, Italy, Research, Gypsies, Gypsy Spells, Genius, Pranks, Mystery
Barbara Caseyabout this book: Dara Roux, abandoned when she was 7 years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan.
Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan.
Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was 16. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan.
Three high-spirited 17 year olds with intelligent quotients in the genius range, accompany their teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, to Frascati, Italy, a few weeks before they are to graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Carolina's purpose in planning the trip is to remove her gifted, creative students from the Wood Rose campus located in Raleigh, North Carolina, so they can't cause any more problems ("expressions of creativity") for the headmaster, faculty, and other students – which they do with regularity.
Carolina also wants to visit the Villa Mondragone where the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, was first discovered and attempt to find out how it is related to a paper written in the same script she received on her 18th birthday when she was told that she was adopted.
With the help of Larry Gitani, a friend who teaches at the University of North Carolina, Carolina has already learned that her birth parents were Italian gypsies. By including her three charges, who call themselves the FIGs (Females of Intellectual Genius), in what she refers to as her "special project," she hopes the experience will give them the confidence they will need to face whatever the future holds once they leave the protective walls of Wood Rose.
At Frascati, Carolina and the FIGs stay with an elderly couple, the Granchellis, at their farm. The director of the Frascati adoption agency, Lucia De Rosa, a woman Carolina has been in touch with ever since learning she was adopted, has made the arrangements. A tribe of gypsies, the Kaulo Camioes, is camped nearby, and unknown to Carolina, her mother, Lyuba, is the choovihni--a wisewoman--for the tribe. This is the first time the gypsies have returned to the area since the government agency took Carolina as a young child from her mother. During the day, the gypsies go into the village to peddle their wares and services. The children are left behind at the camp with the elders to watch after them. One boy, however, the son of the Bandoleer, steals herbs from Lyuba's hut while she is away as well as a lock of hair he discovers with a photo of a little girl--Carolina. Angry because Lyuba treats him like a child, he uses the herbs and hair to make a curse.
While searching through the Bibliotheca Secreta at the Villa Mondragone, Carolina and the FIGs discover another document similar to the Voynich, and written in the same style as Carolina's. After talking to a retired Jesuit priest, they learn that it was written by Carolina's father who died just before she turned four. An educated man, he had worked in the library at the villa, when it still belonged to the Jesuit priests, whenever his tribe traveled to the area. Apparently, without anyone's knowledge, he wrote a history of the Kaulo Camioes and hid it with the other ancient books and documents. He also wrote Carolina's document--a letter from her loving father written right after she was born.
The fact that both documents resemble the Voynich leads to the possibility that the ancient Voynich could have been written by gypsies, something that has never before been considered. Just as Carolina and the FIGs make this discovery, however, Carolina becomes ill. The doctor is called, but nothing seems to help. Desperate to help their teacher and friend, Dara, Mackenzie, and Jennifer go to the gypsy camp and find Lyuba. They take her to Carolina at the Granchelli farm where she works her spells. When these don't make Carolina better, she leaves.
Without telling Carolina, Larry has followed her and the FIGs to Frascati in an effort to help Carolina find out about her past. The day before Carolina became ill, he located Lyuba and talked to her about Carolina. Until then, Lyuba didn't know anything about her daughter or what had happened to her. Unknown to Carolina, Larry is the son of a Gypsy King who made the decision as a young man to leave the gypsy way of life. It is his hope that once Carolina finds out about her past, the two of them can move forward in their relationship. Lyuba goes to him now, and it is with his help that Carolina is cured.
Over the weeks, Carolina is able to fit all of the missing pieces of her past together; she meets the mother--her birth mother--she always loved; the love she and Larry share is now based on truth; and the FIGs, who are also a very real part of her family, each discover something meaningful within themselves because of Carolina--something that helps them accept the reality of their own situation and face the future without fear.
They return to Wood Rose for graduation and perform one last expression of creativity in true FIG style. Dara, Mackenzie, and Jennifer are looking forward to continuing their education in the fall at the universities where they have been accepted: Yale, MIT, and Juilliard. Meanwhile, there is still summer and when Carolina asks the FIGs what they plan to do, Dara tells her that Larry knows someone who might be able to help her find her mother. He thinks she is living in New York. Mackenzie and Jennifer are going to help. Just as the FIGs had hoped, Carolina decides to join them. They will also take some time to go to the Beinecke Library at Yale University where the Voynich is now located and discuss their findings with the head of the rare documents department.
As faculty, staff, and student-residents breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the FIGs will soon be leaving campus, Lynda (spelled with a "y") Corgill feels the need to take up where the FIGs have left off in their "expressions of creativity," and with the help of one of the younger residents, successfully fills the headmaster's door lock with cement glue. All is as it should be at Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women.
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