Italian author portrays a 'different' Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox, the American convicted of murdering a British student in a drug-fuelled sex orgy, is a bookish girl with sad blue eyes who loves truffles, the author of a new book out on Tuesday told AFP.
The book by Rocco Girlanda, a member of the Italian parliament who says he has become a friend of Knox's since their first meeting after her conviction in 2009, is based on his numerous visits to her in prison in the city of Perugia.
"It was something I had to do for Amanda," Girlanda said in an interview at a hotel bar near the Montecitorio parliament building in central Rome.
He remembers their first meeting as "very cold" but the discrepancy between the image of Knox and her real character caught his interest, he said.
"I found she was a very different girl from what I imagined and was afraid of... I had to meet a girl described as sex, drugs and rock'n'roll," he said.
"Instead, from our conversations a very different person came out."
The book comes out just over a month before the start of Knox's appeal hearing on November 24. She is also due in court on November 8 on a charge of slander for alleging she was beaten by police during her interrogation.
Girlanda emphasised that he never spoke to Knox about the trial.
His book, entitled "Take Me With You: Talks with Amanda Knox in Prison", is sympathetic but does not express any personal view in favour of her case.
The Italian version was released on Tuesday, while the English version is due to be published on November 24 -- the day of the appeal hearing.
Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the family of Knox's victim, 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, has said the book is "completely inappropriate."
In the book Girlanda speaks of his dreams about Knox, invites her to go to Venice with him and describes how he gives her a gift of a computer in prison.
"Her face doesn't have any make-up. It's beautiful like a porcelain doll," he says in one passage, adding: "Her body has changed. She's more of a woman."
In another he says he will bring her white truffle from his home town of Gubbio after she confesses to a weakness for the pricey delicacy.
Asked about their friendship, Girlanda described it as "intense."
The 44-year-old also brings her numerous books from world literature including works by Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, Kafka, Marquez and Maupassant.
Girlanda's book contains a short story by Knox entitled "Casual Order" -- a dark love story full of suppressed desire and autumn leaves.
"I want to live," he quotes Knox as saying in one of their conversations -- all of which he said were in Italian which she speaks fluently.
"I'm thinking about when I will be out of here," she adds.
She speaks of wanting to be an interpreter or a writer, her love for nature as well as her interest in religious writings from Buddhism and Christianity.
"Living here is like being in limbo," she is quoted as saying.
Girlanda is a member of parliament for the Umbria region where Knox and her victim were studying and is also head of the Italy-USA Foundation -- the reason he became interested in the case in the first place.
"Amanda is a curious girl compared to other 23-year-olds. In a good way. Amanda is a girl who goes in depth on everything," Girlanda said. "She's a deep girl."
Asked about her current mood, Girlanda said: "Amanda is serene.... Every now and then though, a melancholic shadow passes through those beautiful blue eyes."
Knox was sentenced in December 2009 to 26 years in prison for the murder of Kercher, a fellow student in Perugia, in a sex game that turned violent.
The Seattle native has repeatedly protested her innocence.
Kercher was found on November 2, 2007, semi-nude in a pool of blood with stab wounds to the neck in her room in the cottage she shared with Knox.
Knox's then Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and a man from Ivory Coast, Rudy Guede, were also convicted of the murder.
© 2010 AFP