I've been a fan of Simonetta Agnello Hornby's work since The Almond Picker brought her international fame but "La Mia Londra" is the first of her non-I've been a fan of Simonetta Agnello Hornby's work since The Almond Picker brought her international fame but "La Mia Londra" is the first of her non-fiction works that I have read.
Simonetta Agnello Hornby is Sicilian by birth but is now a naturalised British citizen and she has lived, with her family, in London since 1970. There she practises as a lawyer too and hers was the first legal firm in England to set up a department dealing exclusively with domestic violence. She also works with the Muslim community and for underprivileged children.
An early career influence on Simonetta Agnello Hornby was Lord Denning, at that time Master of the Rolls. She never met him but heard him speak at the Law Society, where he said that a good solicitor must observe people and read, especially novels. She writes that if she became a good lawyer she owes it to the lawyer William Middleton and to Lord Denning but that it is to Lord Denning that she owes her success as a novelist.
"La mia Londra" is the story of how Simonetta Agnello Hornby came to love her adopted city. Her guide, and ours, for much of the book is Dr Johnson, whom she admires. We accompany her on her walks through all parts of the city, and she takes us to several small museums that I, for one, never knew of.
Unlike many Sicilians, Simonetta Agnello Hornby is adventurous with food and actually likes British cuisine. I was fascinated by her theory about our use of table mats rather than tablecloths, a habit she puts down to the Protestant religion and a need to demarcate one's space.
In 2000 Simonetta Agnello Hornby found herself living in a very smart area of London indeed and there she was forbidden to hang out her washing. The strategies she used to get around this prohibition are hilarious and from now on I will always visualise her clandestinely putting her washing out in the middle of the night and draping her underwear over the plant pots.
Simonetta Agnello Hornby sees the spirituality of Londoners in the city's parks, thinks of the Thames as a river that, like the English, "seems calm but is not" and is always impressed by the openness of the British towards foreigners; it was partly this, she tells us, which influenced her decision to take British citizenship. Britain, I must say, should be proud to have her.
From this book I learnt a lot about London, Dr Johnson and about one of my favorite Sicilian authors. It is not often that I can say that a book has "charmed" me but this one has. I do not think there is an English edition yet but I am sure one will come. Meanwhile, if you read Italian and love London, do read this book. ...more
"I had seen them arrive: orderly, disciplined, regimented, a real flock that goes where those who command want it to go, those who promise, who fright"I had seen them arrive: orderly, disciplined, regimented, a real flock that goes where those who command want it to go, those who promise, who frighten, it proceeds with closed eyes since there's no need to see the road, the road is a solid stream of fleece that will arrive at the square chosen by the power in charge..... long live whoever comes along, long live whoever is at the top of the mountain, never long live the poor bastards that die so that the sheep may become men and women."
I have never forgotten that passage from Oriana Fallaci's Un Uomo [A Man], a fictionalised biography of her lover the Greek freedom fighter Alexandros Panagulis, which I read in 1980.
As an Italian graduate, I had long admired Oriana Fallaci's work and was fascinated by this seemingly fearless woman who had made it as an investigative journalist at a time when it was very difficult for a woman to do so.
Fallaci was once called "la giornalista più turbolento dell'Italia" ["Italy's most aggressive journalist"] by a colleague and Ayatollah Khomeini and Henry Kissinger were two Fallaci interviewees who probably agreed with this view of her. In 1979, she famously took her chador off in Khomeini's presence and, interviewing Henry Kissinger in 1972, she asked him why he was so popular. Kissinger at first denied that he was, then said he put his popularity down to the fact that he had always acted alone, like a cowboy riding out ahead of the wagon train. When the interview was published all over the world, it caused a scandal, as Americans were not very happy about the cowboy comparison. Years later, Kissinger said that agreeing to be interviewed by Fallaci was one of the most unfortunate decisions of his life.
From this excellent biography by Cristina de Stefano I learned a lot about Oriana that I hadn't realised before: that she had been a WW2 partisan, for instance and about her courage as a correspondent during the Vietnam war. I was astonished to learn that in love, the great Oriana Fallaci could be as foolish as the rest of us and the account of her affair with Alfredo Pieroni makes sad reading.
The love of her life, though, was the married French journalist François Pelou, who was her intellectual equal and who, according to de Stefano, taught her to see power through different eyes. Their love affair was all the more intense because it was conducted in the midst of war.
Oriana Fallaci had a love-hate relationship with America and once remarked that she was going to win. She lived happily in New York for many years and it was there that she meticulously researched her own family's history and wrote the first volume of it, Un cappello pieno di ciliege [A Hat Full of Cherries] which I am currently reading. [The book, though very long, was not completed and was published posthumously.] The rather charming title refers to the hat that Fallaci's mother was wearing when she met her father. If you read Italian and are also eagle-eyed, you may notice that "ciliege" in the title is spelled without the final -i. Fallaci had insisted on this because it was both the Tuscan way and the way that her mother had pronounced the word.
When 9/11 came, Fallaci was quick to defend her adopted country and later wrote a much-criticised book, La Rabbia e L'Orgoglio [The Rage and the Pride], about what she perceived as the Islamist threat.
Knowing that she had an incurable tumour, Oriana Fallaci faced death as courageously as she had faced life and planned for it in detail. At the end, she asked to be flown back to her beloved Tuscany, where she died on the night of 14th - 15th September 2006.
This biography has greatly added to my knowledge of Oriana Fallaci and has led me to read more of her books. ...more
I am not sure what I think about the current fashion for writing historical fiction in the present tense and using conversation to carry the action foI am not sure what I think about the current fashion for writing historical fiction in the present tense and using conversation to carry the action forward. In English Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel do it superbly, if, in the latter case, rather academically.
However, Italian is a language in which the "vivid present " [the use of the present tense to recount past events] is more common and, as we are in the hands of the dramatist Dario Fo, we must surely expect mostly dialogue.
On the whole I feel he succeeds, though I got lost in some of the early dialogue concerning political intrigues, as I have in other books about the scheming Borgias.
Why did Fo choose to write about Lucrezia? Because, I would guess, there can be no doubt that she is one of the most maligned women in history and because her story of course lends itself to high drama. Fo portrays her as the political pawn that any woman in her position and time would have been but also as intelligent, politically astute, kind and even gentle. In an interview about the book, the Nobel laureate dramatist said that Lucrezia reminded him in some ways of his late wife, Franca Rame, because Franca, too, had taken up unpopular causes, helped the unfortunate and felt the need to intervene for the sake of social justice.
We cannot know to what extent Lucrezia was complicit in the outrageous plotting of her devious father, Pope Alexander VI and notorious brother, Cesare, but that she tried to save at least one of her three husbands from death at their hands is documented. As Duchess of Ferrara she was popular with locals and, at the end of her life, espoused charitable causes and set up a convent. We know that she had an affair with the poet Pietro Bembo and this is touchingly recounted in the book. It is commonly held that she also had an affair with Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantova, but Fo - uniquely, according to him - refutes this, citing the fact that Lucrezia would have known that Francesco had syphilis and would not have risked it.
The book is beautifully illustrated but I find it strange that none of the images - some of which are famous and some of which are, I presume, by Fo himself - are accredited.
As far as I am aware, the book is currently being translated into several other languages so, if you are interested in Lucrezia and get a chance to read it, I suggest that you do so. You may conclude, as I did, that she was a product of her time and class, neither wholly bad nor as good as Fo would have her but, like most of us, somewhere in between....more
Recently I'd been thinking about the way in which, since I started to write on my blog about migration in the Mediterranean in 2006, the vocabulary thRecently I'd been thinking about the way in which, since I started to write on my blog about migration in the Mediterranean in 2006, the vocabulary that we use to describe what is happening is changing: for instance,back then, illegal immigrants were referred to as "clandestini" in Italy and I used the term myself, whereas now the term "migranti" is always used.
Ata Alla Nasser Hamad Aly, who tells his story to Luciano Zanardini and who entered Italy in 1998, refers to himself as a "clandestino". At that time, there were several amnesties for illegal immigrants in the country but unfortunately Nasser, or Mimmo, as he became known to Italians, just missed one of these.
He tells us of his reasons for leaving Egypt and first among these was the impossibility of finding work there, although he had qualifications. He describes Egypt as a society in which nepotism reigns supreme and in which money talks. Anyone who has lived in Italy for any length of time knows that the same may be said of this country, but evidently it works in different ways here. What impresses Nasser about Italy is the respect that people have for work.
Next we learn about Nasser's journey to Italy: his family had, by making many sacrifices, managed to find the not inconsiderable sum he needed in order to pay people traffickers and he reached Italy via Albania, crossing to Italy at night in a dinghy containing 40 people. The boat was spotted by the Italian Coast Guard but those in charge of it knew how to dodge them. As they neared the beach, the people traffickers started hitting the passengers with lengths of wood so that they would jump into the cold, December sea. When they reached the beach, no police were waiting and Nasser assumes they deemed it more important to arrest the people traffickers. I should point out that the Italian police have a good record in arresting people traffickers but these days, because of the much greater number of migrant arrivals, there would be police, other officials and volunteers on hand to process and help the migrants.
That night, Nasser saw a young man who was walking in front of him drop dead from a heart attack, probably caused by the cold and the hardships of the journey. He points out that the Mediterranean, now so linked to death, was and is also a symbol of life as it has always made communication and business possible between people of different cultures.
Having cousins in Brescia, Nasser travelled there and found himself forbidden by his relatives to go out, because of his illegal status. He became more and more frustrated, for how was he to learn the language if he had no contact with anyone? When he did find a job, as a dishwasher in a pizzeria in a nearby town, he was shocked by the way he was treated: the owner's wife and children never so much as acknowledged him and he was allowed to drink only tap water [never bottled water] and to eat one pizza a day - nothing else. He soon became indispensable to the owner, though, and slowly and painfully learnt to make pizza. Finally, much to the owner's chagrin, he left. By this time, he writes,
"I had three extra weapons in my bag; patience, the will to overcome all obstacles and hope."
Nasser started working in another pizzeria, where he got on with the owner well and then his luck changed, for he met an elderly pizza chef called Piero who needed help. Nasser worked in both restaurants and one day Piero suggested they go into partnership. It was difficult for him to find the money but he managed to raise it and he transformed Piero's business, eventually opening a second pizzeria for him. Now Nasser owns three pizzerie and Piero regards him as a son and Nasser's children as his grandchildren. Yes, Nasser found time to get married too and he tells us his love story!
In 2003 Nasser was able to regularise his status in Italy and he firmly believes that integration depends not on how many years an immigrant has been in the host country but on his or her attitude; he also believes that immigrants have a duty to respect the country that has given them a chance. I was surprised to learn that Nasser and his family wish, eventually, to return to Egypt but they have certainly earned the right to do so.
Above all, Nasser believes in God and in hope and says that it is hope that causes so many migrants to sail for Europe:
"If you take hope away from someone he will die but if you leave him with a glimmer of it he will continue to live."
I would not agree with some of Nasser's observations about Italy but I suppose all our perceptions about place depend on where we started out. I found this short book interesting and inspiring and if you read Italian I would recommend it.
There are some writers whose style is so pleasant, whose humour is so gentle and to whom you return so often that you feel you know them personally; tThere are some writers whose style is so pleasant, whose humour is so gentle and to whom you return so often that you feel you know them personally; to sit and spend an hour in the company of one of their books is like chatting to your dearest friend over a cup of tea and they have that rare talent of making you think without distressing you. Among my "comfort writers" I would number Alexander McCall Smith, Maeve Binchy and, when it comes to books about Italy, Tim Parks.
It is difficult to point out the disadvantages of living in an adopted country without causing offence but Tim Parks is one of the writers who has always managed it and he does so again in "Italian Ways". This is not a travel book, though there are elements of travel writing in it, nor is it about life in any one part of Italy: rather, it is about the author's journeys on Italian railways over a period of some thirty years and his encounters with people, conflicting systems and bureaucracy in the process. Through these stories, we also gain a fair knowledge of the history of the Italian railway system and the trains that run on it - a lesson presented in a most entertaining way.
No reader who knows Italy will fail to identify with Parks's dealings with the "pignoli" - whom we would call "Jobsworths" in Britain - of Trenitalia and other operators and I had to smile at his descriptions of southern resignation as he travelled down Italy.
Yes, Mr Parks even made it to Modica by train and, disappointingly, has little to say about the town. True, as he himself has said and as I have said above, this is not a travel book, but I hardly think it is fair that Lecce gets more space than Modica. Of course, I could be biased! Or could it be that Tim Parks, as he travelled deeper and deeper into the South, became more southern himself?
"Don't be concerned that you may have nothing to say about these places. Just be here, on the journey, at every moment of the journey."
- Very southern Italian and not a bad philosophy of life, really!...more
Simonetta Agnello Hornby is the author of the better-known "The Almond Picker", an entertaining tale of family squabbles and revenge which is not withSimonetta Agnello Hornby is the author of the better-known "The Almond Picker", an entertaining tale of family squabbles and revenge which is not without a hint of sadness. In "The Marchesa" Agnello Hornby embarks upon another family saga, taking as her main character Costanza Safamita, later the Marchesa Sabbiamena, who really lived: Adored by her supposed father but unloved by her mother, the young Costanza turns to the servants for solace and the story is told through the memories of her one-time wet nurse, Amalia Cuffaro, as she tells them to her disabled niece Pinuzza. Now, I always have trouble with books that have so many characters that you have to keep turning to a list of them, and several times I lost track of who people were in this saga. The second problem I had with the book is that each chapter has a heading which tells you what happens and I found this irritiating as it made me wonder if there was any point in reading on. Alastair McEwen has effected a fine translation but I couldn't help feeling that some restructuring of the narrative was also necessary for the English edition. That said, I am glad that I did choose to read on, for I became caught up in the tale from about half-way through. The book also offers an unusual insight into how the Sicilian aristocracy of the second half of the nineteenth century lived and into their mores. The Mafia also feature in this novel but I feel that their shadowy presence adds little to the tale and would be muddling to anyone not well versed in Sicilian history. We know from the beginning that Costanza dies young so we read the book in full awareness that there will be no happy ending. Her love story is also heartbreaking. I wanted to know more about Amalia Cuffaro and Pinuzza: we are not told why Amalia squandered the property and money given her by the Safamita family, nor do we learn the precise nature of Pinuzza's disabilities. Therefore I would say the book is unsatisfactory in several ways but it is readable for what it is: a good yarn set against real historical events. The Almond Picker...more
When I wrote about Ragusa's Castle of Donnafugata for Italy Magazine, several readers contacted me to say that it was the setting of this book. SadlyWhen I wrote about Ragusa's Castle of Donnafugata for Italy Magazine, several readers contacted me to say that it was the setting of this book. Sadly, that is not so but I am grateful to them for pointing the book out to me. As Marlena De Blasi states in an introductory note, Donnafugata is the name of several real and fictional properties in Sicily, most famously the one near Palermo in Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard. However, De Blasi's tale is none the less fascinating for that:
In 1995, De Blasi travelled to the island with her Venetian husband to complete a journalistic assignment. For various reasons this work project did not come to fruition but one day, the couple stumble upon the Villa Donnafugata and there they meet the fascinating Tosca and the community of women over which she presides.
De Blasi's powers of description are superb and, although I live in Sicily, I felt transported to a world within my own world as she set the scene: I could almost smell the perfume of the gardens, feel the texture of the table linen and taste the feasts which the women prepare with ingredients that I have come to know so well. As a reader I often skip descriptive passages but here I did not want them to end.
As the couple become more and more drawn into their surroundings and the life of the Villa, Tosca decides to tell her story to the writer De Blasi and we are taken back to the Sicily of seventy years ago as the magnificent Tosca weaves the strands of her tale: poverty, riches, great love, crime, loss and a fateful journey to Palermo during which she finds both herself and her purpose in life.
But the story does not end here for there is a twist in the plot towards the end of the book which will have you weeping and jumping for joy at the same time.
I admit I couldn't put the book down and what else are summers for if not a little romantic indulgence? Is the story true? De Blasi says it is and the book is classified as a travel memoir. One thing I do know is that anything can happen in Sicily and, however much of it you believe, this is a jolly good yarn.
There is an interesting interview with Marlena De Blasi at the end of this edition and I would agree with much of what she says, but not with her assertion that "Sicily is not really Italy". Sicily is, if anything, an exaggeration of Italy and for me Barzini's words sum it up:
"Sicily is the schoolroom model of Italy for beginners, with every Italian quality and defect magnified, exasperated, and brightly coloured... Everywhere in Italy life is more or less slowed down by the exuberant intelligence of its inhabitants: in Sicily it is practically paralysed by it."
My guess is that Marlena De Blasi would agree with the second, but not the first, sentence of this quotation.
Very occasionally, I come across a book that is so interesting that I read it in one sitting and this is one of these. The subject matter is a virtualVery occasionally, I come across a book that is so interesting that I read it in one sitting and this is one of these. The subject matter is a virtually forgotten incident which occurred in 1926 and its protagonists are Violet Gibson, an aristocratic British spinster and Benito Mussolini, the fascist leader of Italy. If events that morning had gone just a little differently, the whole course of twentieth century history might have been very different.
On that long ago Wednesday Violet Gibson had set out from the convent where she was staying in Rome carrying a pistol, a stone and a scrap of newspaper on which she had written "Palazzo del Littorio", the address of the Fascist Party headquarters where she intended to carry out her deed in the afternoon. But instead she stopped at the Campodoglio where a crowd had gathered because of Mussolini's presence and, seeing him emerge from the Palazzo dei Conservatori, she shot him at point blank range, injuring the tip of his nose. Violet Gibson got as close to her target as Jack Ruby got to Lee Harvey Oswald 37 years later, murder, as the author of this book points out, sometimes being " a very intimate business".
At this point you may well be asking yourselves, as I did, why you have not heard of this incident before and the answer seems to be because it suited both the British and Italian governments to hush it up. It made the newspapers in both countries, of course, and Mussolini's supporters bayed for Violet's blood but both sets of diplomats were only too happy for Violet's family to take her back to Britain and have her quietly shut away. That is what happened and Violet remained in what we would now call a "private mental health facility" for the rest of her life.
Two questions remain about Violet: why did she do it and was she mad? The first has never been definitively answered, as Violet always implied that there were others involved, though no evidence of this was ever found. If she was mad , she was an "intelligent lunatic" who read the papers and analysed political events. She was also born at a time when women of her class were brought up to be ornaments. It is possible, then, that she was looking for a cause and she seems to have thought that she was acting on some sort of divine command.
For years, Violet led investigators and her doctors a dance, at one point asserting,
"What I say can't be believed because I am mad"
and she hardly helped her own cause. Despite her numerous, cogent pleas to the highest in the land, she was never set free or even allowed to reside in a Catholic hospital as she requested and her family became exasperated and more than a little concerned about costs. At this point the book becomes a kind of chronicle of the way in which the well-off mentally ill were treated in the first half of the twentieth century and it is none the less fascinating for that.
The book, however, is as much Benito Mussolini's story as it is Violet's and its early part poses a third question: was Mussolini mad? I'll leave you to make up your own minds on that one!
Meanwhile, back to our mysterious "heroine": When Violet Gibson died in 1956 no public announcement was made and no friend or relative attended her funeral. She remains, in death as in life, an enigma.
Having resisted both the book and the film for some time because of the hype, I finally decided I had to find out for myself what all the fuss was aboHaving resisted both the book and the film for some time because of the hype, I finally decided I had to find out for myself what all the fuss was about. Now, I know you shouldn't see the film first, but that's what I did and, like most people, I guess, I enjoyed the Italian part but was puzzled by the middle, "Pray" part, which I did not particularly enjoy. I did quite like the final, "Love" part - who could not, when it's got dishy Javier Bardem as Felipe? - though I must admit I couldn't relate to Liz's reluctance to go away with him!
Anyway, it all made me want to read the book to find out more about Liz Gilbert's true story and I have to say, it is not your usual kind of travel book: it is, as it claims to be, the tale of "one woman's search for everything" and it is well written, witty and intriguing. The only problem is that many of us may think that Ms Gilbert already had pretty much everything: an acclaimed writer and journalist, she had beauty, money, a life-style to match and what most women would regard as a perfectly acceptable lover.
However, I can understand why someone with the means - and Ms Gilbert does admit that she was lucky to have the means - would want to spend time "marvelling" at the food and beauty of Italy and, apart from the fact that her character seems to think that language learning consists of absorbing the contents of a dictionary, the Italian section of the book is highly readable. Ms Gilbert does write beautifully about food but those of you who have seen the film may be disappointed to learn that the scene where the Italian landlady explains how to use the bath is not in the book; sadly, it was always extremely unlikely that someone with pigeon English would have no difficulty with the passive tense with "get".
In short, I loved Ms Gilbert's descriptions of Rome, disliked her dismissal of the city of Messina and nodded as I read her observation that visiting a place requires a totally different kind of energy to that needed when you live there.
The second part of the book presented more problems for me, as did the middle section of the film, and I put some of this down to my British cynicism, for it seems to me that Ms Gilbert's guru had it made: no one with any real problem was allowed to visit her ashram, those who had suffered recent trauma were also barred and people actually paid good money to go there and wash floors. I became increasingly incredulous as I read and frankly, the descriptions of chanting soon turned into endless chants themselves.
It was a relief, then , to reach part three of the book and I did learn a lot about Balinese history and culture from it. From the character of Felipe I also learned more about how people react to extreme poverty and I am grateful for that. But again, the endless descriptions of meditative processes began to pall and the cynic in me wondered again at the self-indulgence of it all. I also wanted to know far more about Felipe and the process of learning to trust again.
Would I recommend the book? Yes, because there is much to learn from here and much can be forgiven because of Ms Gilbert's writing style. But do not expect a light read in the form of a straightforward travel book or romance!...more
This is the Italian edition of "Lettre à ma fille qui veut porter le voile"["Letter to my Daughter who wants to wear the Veil"] by the French-ALgerianThis is the Italian edition of "Lettre à ma fille qui veut porter le voile"["Letter to my Daughter who wants to wear the Veil"] by the French-ALgerian journalist Leila Djitli.
Aicha is a French-Algerrian woman who has fought hard for her freedoms and her place in French society. When her seventeen-year-old daughter, Nawel, suddenly decides that she wants to wear full Islamic dress, Aicha feels that these freedoms are threatened.
Shocked and upset, she resists the temptation to forbid her daughter to wear the veil and instead writes Nawel a long letter in which she explains her beliefs, history, hopes for her daughter's future and fears. She also sets down her thoughts on Islam and modern France.
She points out to Nawel that a Muslim man can wear a religious sign - such as the beard - without changing his whole life but that the moment a woman dons the full veil, the veil "speaks about her and before her". The veil, argues Aicha, demeans not only women but men, as it has implications for the way in which men perceive women.
Aicha feels that the veil negates her own history and, with it, the history of Algerian immigration in twentieth century France. As she awaits Nawel's coming of age, she tries to make her see that the freedoms she is rebelling against could enrich her life and help her achieve her dreams, one of which, Aicha is sure, is independence.
"Religion can give you a lot, but not everything."
We do not know what Nawel's final decision will be but the book leaves the reader hoping that she will heed her mother and not be taken in by the peers who are pressurising her to don the veil for their own reasons. Through pen portraits of some of Aicha's friends, we also learn a lot abvout the lives of French-Algerian women today. But most of all this is Aicha's story: of immigration, of the battle for acceptance and of a woman who values freedom.
As the "burqa debate" continues to provoke strong feelings in both France and Italy, this is a timely book.
The novelist, journalist and screenwriter Barbara Alberti was shocked when a female politician who had obviously had a facelift and"RECLAIM YOUR FACE"
The novelist, journalist and screenwriter Barbara Alberti was shocked when a female politician who had obviously had a facelift and other invasive "anti-ageing" treatments appeared on Italian television to launch a campaign which would "liberate" Muslim women from the obligation to wear the veil. What scandalised Alberti was the politician's total lack of self-irony and she takes, as her thesis for this book, the idea that plastic surgery is the "western woman's burqa".
Using examples from history, literature, the lives of the famous, her own life and letters from her readers, Alberti demonstrates that women in the west are being denied a fundamental human right - the right to age naturally.
For me, one of the saddest episodes in the book is the true story of a woman of fifty-four who agrees to a meeting with the man she loved at eighteen. The two meet, go to a hotel and the man roughly makes love to her. In the morning she wakes up in his arms and he is looking at her. Then he, who is eight years her senior, says,
"It's the first time I've had an old woman in my bed".
The cruelty of this man is unbelieveable and I cried as I thought of the woman making preparations and going to buy herself beautiful lingerie with a heart full of hope. Reading such an account, a woman d'un certain age is likely to feel she has only two choices: if she has the means, to undergo all the age-defying treatments on offer, even at the risk of her life, or to give up the idea of love and companionship with a man forever.
But surely there must be another way? Can we not be who we are? Yes, we can, says Alberti and we must:
"Cambiate età ogni giorno. Siate nonne a quindici anni, fidanzate a ottanta. Ma non siate mai quello che gli altri vogliono."
"Change your age every day. Be grandmothers at fifteen or fiancées at eighty. But never be what others want you to be."
I found this a fascinating and thought-provoking book, as subversive as de Beauvoir's The Coming of Age. It is not yet available in English but, sisters, I urge you to demand an English edition!