Editor's Note: Many who study the Italian Renaissance know of Guiliano de Medici. However, do they know about the tales involving his heirs, especially Juliana? The interwoven tale spun in The Medici Heirs intrigues and captivates the imagination of those who relish this golden age of the arts and the mysterious legacy of the family of the Medici.
In The Medici Heirs, readers meet the members of the Medici Family as well as Dr. Juliana Smith, a Medici heir, who lives in London but does not yet know her royal legacy. Juliana is plagued by what she calls a fiend, “in human shape.”
Juliana finds the fiend an annoyance, an invasion of her physical space. And Juliana shares that this creature has been in her world for many years as her beloved grandmother has told her and that it can take on other shapes. And the fiend and Juliana are a major part of this narrative as the work interweaves the 16th century and 20th century.
Juliana accepts a job to translate the legal documents written in Latin into English and develop a summary of the work. She learns more about the Medici family through these documents. Juliana is very close to her grandmother, Dr. Catherine Schmidt, a retired pediatrician, who is living in Three Chestnuts, a private retirement, historical residence.
Greed rears its ugly head when Juliana’s mother, unsuccessfully attempts to have her mother, Dr. Schmidt "sectioned," which means declared mentally incompetent, in order to take control of her money. Juliana also learns a secret about her mother. And with success, Juliana's mother places Juliana in a facility for the mentally insane. It is this part of the story that reveals the true strength of this protagonist.
This female “cuckoo’s nest” introduces unique characters as well as the fiend to contribute to Juliana’s own discovery about her true ability to claim and maintain her sanity against many forces that, at times, seem overwhelming.
Chapter 6 finds Juliana Smith having a conversation with her grandmother, Dr. Catherine Schmidt
“Juliana, what are you holding in your hand? Do you want to give that to me?”
“Yes, I need to know your opinion. Signor Cassini wrote it, last night.”
“I was afraid that Cassini would do something unreasonable. It would seem he has a soft spot for you."
Grandma started reading the letter. When she finished, she tore it into small pieces and threw them on the fire.
“What are you doing?” I protested. “That was my letter.”
“Not anymore,” said Grandma quietly. “It was never written. I will deny I ever saw it.”
“Is it true, then, that my mother was unstable as a child?”
“Utter nonsense! Very few children can be called unstable. Your mother was a pleasant, happy little girl, but, as she grew up, she felt lonely and invented an imaginary friend for herself. There is nothing unusual about it.”
“She had an imaginary friend? How did you know?” Was it possible that a fiend of some kind had been visiting my mother, too?
“This imaginary friend started appearing in public places. Your mother let herself make a habit of talking to thin air, which wasn’t healthy.”
Aha, I thought.
“And what had happened to that imaginary friend?”
“As far as I know,” replied Grandma, “she disappeared when your mother met your father and got married. That was fully to be expected.”
“So nothing in Signor Cassini’s letter is true?”
“I refuse to discuss the subject. I repeat: the letter was never written. But I’ll tell you one thing. James came to Rome in 1971 to persuade your mother to settle in England. If you remember, at that time your parents were planning to move to New York. He used his contacts in the diplomatic service to obtain British passports for us, and he invited your mother to visit England before we made up our minds.”
“I do remember mother going to England. For a week, she said, but she was away for a month. She never told me that Sir James had invited her. She never told me she knew him.”
“Your mother spent most of that month in a psychiatric hospital. It’s natural that she didn’t want to talk about it.”
“You can ask her yourself, if you wish.”
“Fine, grandma. I understand that you are a doctor and are protective of personal information. But please, tell me, why mother wanted to section you? She claimed that you had dementia and were delusional.”
“Juliana, that was a long time ago. I’m sorry you got involved in those unpleasant events.”
“Of course, I knew that you were sharp as a tack, even though Sir James’s death was a heavy blow. Since all that, I’ve cut all my contacts with mother. I haven’t spoken to her once. But aren’t you afraid that she might try to do the same thing again?”
“It would be a complete waste of her time and energy. In any case, why should you think so? I phone her once a month, and she hasn’t said anything unusual to me lately.”
“Why would she? She should remember that she failed to section you back then because your friends testified on your behalf. I bet she hasn’t told you that she recently went to Oakdale Financial Services in London to inquire about your business there.”
"How did she learn about that place? Banking is confidential in England.”
“I don’t know. I’m not talking to her, but in 1976 she knew that Oakdale Financial Services were owned by the Oakcrofts and that you kept your money there. You know she wanted to get a power of attorney and a complete disclosure of your accounts.”
“And how did you learn that your mother went there recently?"
“Adam told me.”
"Yes. He told me my mother showed up at their office two weeks ago, just before I went to Firenze. She told the clerk that she was acting on your behalf, but the clerk promptly showed her to the door.”
“Juliana, please, stop using the word Firenze when you speak English. It creates a bad impression. How did your mother fine their office?"
“Adam asked me the same question. She could’ve found the address in the directory, couldn’t she?”
“Oakdale Financial Services is a private commercial bank. It doesn’t advertise. It doesn’t appear in the directory. Its phone number is unlisted, and it doesn’t offer personal banking services.”
“Grandma, if you are so well-informed, you should know that they handle the personal accounts of the Oakcroft family members.”
“And why do you think so? “
“Adam told me. He was so concerned with the fact that mother had found their office that he didn't think at all about you.”
“It was very indiscreet of Adam to tell you anything about his family business. But your mother would not get any information about my affairs from them. Why should she think that I have an account with a bank that serves only the family of its owners?”
“That’s exactly what Adam wanted to know. I think mother is determined to take control over your money, even if she has to squash both you and me in the process. I think that’s why she wanted to section you in 1976. Signor Cassini agrees. Mother knew that Sir James would’ve protected you when he was alive, so she waited until he died. I’m convinced that mother will keep trying until she succeeds.”
“Don’t forget, Juliana, that we live in England at the end of the twentieth century, and nobody here would allow a sane person to be sectioned. You are worrying unnecessarily. Now, how many times must I ask you to bring tea?”
The interruption was welcomed. I needed a break. I didn’t want to tell my grandma that sane people are being sectioned in England now, just as in other societies. She wouldn’t have listened anyway. The conversation did not turn out the way I had hoped. Grandma had told me a few things I did not know. But she showed no regret for concealing them from me for so many years.
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