Amalia's Tale

A Poor Peasant, an Ambitious Attorney, and a Fight for Justice

A quintessential David versus Goliath saga, Amalia’s Tale tells of a wholly unexpected triumph of the poor against the rich and of a crusading city attorney who fought on behalf of an impoverished peasant. Amalia Bagnacavalli, an illiterate young woman from the mountains near Bologna, is forced by poverty to take in a child from the city’s foundling home to wet-nurse. When she contracts syphilis from the sickly and malformed baby given to her, the city fathers callously dismiss her pleas for treatment and restitution.

Bewildered and frightened, Amalia seeks out Augusto Barbieri, an ambitious attorney looking to make a name for himself. The young lawyer takes up her cause, fighting the case for years through the Italian court system before winning an unprecedented victory for his by-now broken client. An unforgettable story and a landmark in the struggle for basic human rights -- A Civil Action in nineteenth-century Italy -- Amalia’s Tale is the story of a rural woman whose life was ruined and the man from the city who would not stop -- or so it seemed -- until he had seen justice done.

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International Editions

  • A Historia de Amalia

    Brazilian edition by Rocco

  • Amalia's Tale

    Italian Edition, Rizzoli, 2010