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The Madonna of the Mountains

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  860 ratings  ·  182 reviews
An epic and inspiring novel about one woman's survival in the hardscrabble Italian countryside, oppressed by both a patriarchal society and by Mussolini's iron-fist rule, but determined to protect her family throughout the war--by any means possible.

A sweeping saga about womanhood, loyalty, war, religion, family, motherhood, and marriage, The Madonna of the Mountains is se
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 12th 2018 by Random House (first published March 29th 2018)
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Angela M
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
4+ stars .

There were so many things I loved about this family saga. I’m drawn to books that are set in Italy in the past. Maybe because of my grandparents who were all born in Italy. I love the intermittent Italian phrases. Though I studied it so long ago I never used it enough over the years to remember much of it, but still the beautiful language touches me. I loved the phrases that I found here, especially in the first parts of the book. I loved the advice, the adages as they reminded me of
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 steadfast stars to The Madonna of the Mountains ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Madonna of the Mountains is an epic story of one woman’s life. Maria Vittoria is born in the mountains of Italy. The story follows her early life in the mountains, her marriage, and the births of her four children. During this time the National Fascist Party and Mussolini rule Italy, and Maria’s family struggles to survive the harsh war times.

During those tumultuous times, Maria has no idea whom to trust. She is surrounded by sno
The past has a suffocating weight of its own. And the future......air unyet to be breathed.

Maria Vittoria's father takes to the mountain paths in 1923 with only his faithful donkey and a well-worn picture of Maria. He has set out to find her a husband along with a dowry long in the making. Maria continues to sit in the small house in Monastero embroidering nuptial bedding with a needle sharp and piercing. Love doesn't seem to fit in the laws of bartering.

A determined nature finds Maria and Achil
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The Madonna of the Mountains takes place in Italy from the late 1920s to the early 1950s. The story focuses on Maria, who as a young woman is excited to start her new life with a husband chosen by her family. As the story develops, life is quite harsh for Maria, partially because of her marriage and in large part because of the political climate and WWII.

I really liked Madonna of the Mountains. I thought that one of the real strengths of this book is that the story is unvarnished. Maria is not p
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: europe-war
A story which spans 3 centuries in the countryside of Italy.
Maria, almost on the verge of becoming a spinster, is finally married off at the brittle age of 25. She’s a woman who is suppressed in a patriarchal society but stands strong in the challenges she faces. Throughout world war 2 she is a pillar to her family. Rationing where she can and sacrificing herself to save her husband. Smothered by the darkness of war, she remains stoic with the protection of the Madonna always giving her strength
Diane S ☔
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I seem to be traveling to Italy quite often in my reading lately. This takes place in a village in the mountains of Italy and span the years from the 1920s to the 1950s. It centers on the trials and trivalis of one family, with a strong in muscle father Achilles and a strong in character mother, Maria. By centering on one familys fate, we are exposed to the harsh realities those in Italy faced during the war.

Maria, is a wonderful character, raised to let her husband be the supreme ruler of her
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book.
It’s the story of Maria Vittoria, from the mountains in Italy. When the story begins she is 25 and living at home with her parents and siblings and is considered as approaching spinster age.
It begins with her father going off to another town to find a husband for her and follows her life through her own marriage and family. This all takes place beginning in 1925 - 1950, and the majority of it through WWll.
Throughout the book she is devout and prays to her statue of t
"Men make the mess, then women have to clear it up."

I loved this. It's a beautifully written book and though its central theme is conflict it's a quiet intimate sensual wise meditative novel which was a joy to read from start to finish.
It begins in 1923. Maria is embroidering a sheet for her dowry chest. At twenty-five she is in danger of remaining a spinster. Her father though has gone off to procure her a husband.

The uneven balance of power between the sexes is always fabulously observed. Th

The year is 1923, and Maria Vitorria’s father is away, he has gone to find a man for her. A husband. Nearing the dangerously advanced age of 25, it is past time Maria was wed. Soon there will be no prospects left, and she will have to rely on her family. Maria isn’t worried, she relies on the wisdom of Madonna of the Mountains, and she knows she will have a husband. She’s so sure that she’s been working, embroidering a sheet for their bed for the wedding night, and when she isn’t doing that, she
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for providing this advance reader copy via NetGalley.

This is an epic story of the life of Maria Vittoria Montanari, who was born in Italy. The book begins in 1923 when she's twenty-five, almost considered past the prime age for marriage. Her father sets out on a mission to find Maria a husband. She's attractive (although not quite as pretty as her younger sister Egidia), strong, and a hard worker. She is embroidering a sheet for her dowry trunk with del
May 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley

I was all prepared to love this book. I had loved Under the Scarlet Sky and was interested in learning more about Italy during Mussolini’s reign. But I just could never get into it. It follows Maria through her marriage at age 25 in 1923 through the early 1950s in the Italian countryside. It was a different time. Women were meant to be subservient. “Men will do what men do… Don’t ask him any more of your pointless questions, Maria. Not knowing is a kind of happiness.”

Even when something meaning
This is the third book I’ve read so far this year that takes place in Italy – this time around, the setting is in the mountains and later in the countryside, during a tumultuous time period starting not long after the end of the Great War and spanning through the Second World War. It is the story of Maria Vittoria, an ordinary woman who grows up in a respectable, devoutly religious family in the Italian mountains and follows her life through marriage, the birth of her children, and later her str ...more
Martie Nees Record
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: June 12, 2018

Whenever I give a book a five star review, that means, for me, it is an incredible read. I admit that when a book is on a subject I enjoy or something that I can relate to, I usually add in an extra star. After all, this reviewer is only human. In this book, I strongly identify with the characters’ culture. Still, this does not take away from the vivid imagery in the superior writing. You will feel as though you are inside
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
What an excellent historical fiction hidden gem. Set in early 20th century Italy, The Madonna of the Mountains follows a country girl, Maria Vittoria, through her marriage and birth of four children, chronicling the family's struggles against the backdrop of Fascist Italy during WWII.

This is one of the more convincingly historical novels I've read recently. Valmorbida's characters are all distinctly of the time period; their trials and tribulations and character arcs are all expertly intertwined
Set in Northern Italy, the story spans between 1920-1950.

It starts with a 25 year old Maria, who is already passed a marriageable age, but it’s not her fault that there are no marriageable men in nearby villages. The men were taken by war. But she prays to her icon of the Madonna of the Mountains and continues to hope for a handsome husband. As this is her last straw to get married, her father travels to another valley with her picture to get her a husband. He comes back with a handsome man Mar
Sharon Metcalf
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2018
From our first introduction to Maria we learn so much about her  upbringing, her piety and her hard working ways setting the tone for this entire book.   A sense of hope and excitement permeated these first pages as Maria eagerly anticipates meeting the man her father is arranging for her to marry.  It's 1923 and in Italy during these post war years suitable men are not easily found.     Maria is 25, she's a devout Christian and fears she'll remain a spinster for life.   She prays alot, honours ...more
The Madonna of the Mountains has at its centre Maria Vittoria and her life over a twenty five years period. The story is set in Italy, during the interbellum, World War II and post-war.

First and foremost, it's a story of survival and family.
Life is difficult, many are poor, they have too many children to feed. Women are second-class citizens. Men and religion rule.

Getting married is all a young woman aspires to. It's a business transaction of sorts. Love is an afterthought, a luxury. There's du
Stephanie Anze
Maria Vittoria is eager to get married and start her own family. The war, however, has left few men so her father sets out from the Italian mountainside on his mule, with a faded picture of his daughter, to look for a husband. At 25 years old, Maria is on the verge of becoming spinster so time is of the essence. Maria is a hard worker and a devout woman, and when her dad returns with a suitor for her, she feels blessed. Life as a married woman, however, is not what it seems. As she forms her own ...more
Lucy Banks
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Delicate yet richly portrayed account of one family during the Fascist regime in Italy. Loved it.

Every so often, a book comes along that is so well written it makes me quite literally coo over over page. I'm happy to report, this was one such tome, and in addition to the beautiful quality of writing, there was also a compelling plot and some heart-wrenchingly honestly depicted characters too.

It all starts with Maria, who at 25 is '
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a review that could go overlong and be far too analytical. So I'll try to take the opposite path. My rating is 3.5 stars rounded up for the narrator/ Maria's language- the tensing and the linear "eyes" especially.

The sentence length/ tensing and voice (language forms of Maria thoughts) were excellent, intrinsically Italian. And she was majority culturally accurate too. Especially the "do not trust anyone" mantra. An often told lesson for both males and females in our Sicilian/Italian pe
I read this book for two reasons: a fellow reader/friend liked the book and the title really spoke to me because I am a Catholic.

The story covers three decades from 1923 to 1950 and is centered on a very strong female figure, Maria Vittoria, who is from a small town in Italy.

1923 - Maria is an aging spinster of 25 (!!). Her father has arranged a marriage for her. When Maria first sees Achille Monestero, she is smitten. He is handsome and strong looking. A very good start to the story, indeed. Ma
Olga Gamer
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
We work so we can eat, and eat so we can work.

"The Madonna of the Mountains" by Elise Valmorbida is a sweeping family drama set in the Italian countryside spanning three decades of a woman's life. The novel begins in 1923 with 25-year-old Maria, her father off to find her a husband.

"Maria can do the work. Everyone in the contra says that."

Her father finds her a wounded First World War veteran, Achilles, and Maria vows to be a good wife., a good mother. From there we go through the decades, cove
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
via my blog:
'Her heart is trapped. Her mouth is dry. Words spill out before she knows it. “Please, dear God, make him good and handsome.”

“Stupid girl, ” her mother says. “When the children are hungry, they won’t cry Papà, belo, they’ll cry Papà, pan!”

Yes, its bread they’ll want, not looks, but Maria can’t help herself. She has waited so long.'

Men are scarce and at twenty-five Maria is fast arriving at a nearly unmarriageable age. The story begins with her
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the Ferrante feels.
Doreen Prentiss Gabriellini
‘The Madonna of the Mountains’ by Elise Valmorbida follows the life of Maria Vittoria from 1923 in the Italian countryside to the 1950’s, when her family emigrates to Australia. The story moves from the little village where Maria grew up to the town where she and husband are shopkeepers. It follows her through the birth of her children, the rise of the National Fascist Party and the Second World War.

The Madonna of the Mountains was billed as “A sweeping saga about womanhood, religion, loyalty, w
What a coincidence that I would read this book right around the time my new neighbors moved in next door. They are Italians from Australia and they told me their grandparents immigrated there from Italy and the area they grew up in was full of Italians.

In Madonna of the Mountains, the story spans from the 1920’s to the 1950’s and portrays the life of a young woman, Maria Vittoria, who is from the mountains of Italy. The story paints a rich and vivid picture of Italian culture and the unstable ec
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This gorgeous book won the 2019 VPLA for Fiction. It’s Elena Ferrante meets Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and I loved it: the mythic quality of the narrative; the refusal to fall into lazy romanticising or cheap sentiment; its sweeping immersion into tumultuous yet modest individual lives, set against grand historical events. A delight.
Lady Alexandrine
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful family saga! The characters were very well written and felt very real. The Italian family's history and its hardships were shown from 1923 to 1950. The Fascist Era in Italy was so engagingly described, the difficulties of survival in the time of war, especially the fight to conquer hunger were so remarkably well shown that it was hard to put the book down even for a moment.

(painting by Caspar David Friedrich - Statue of the Madonna in the Mountains)

I enjoyed following the main charact
One particular risk of having a reading list or challenge is that it’s easily possible to read several books in a row that, while fine, don’t really excite you; that you’re reading because there’s no reason to put them down and they’re doing their job, but which you don’t feel a pang parting from when you reach work, or the end of your lunch break. The upside of a patch of average reading is that when you do find something emotionally compelling, it breaks upon you like a wave of delight. The Ma ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Novel spanning 3 decades across WW2, set in the VENETO, Italy

This book cover is noteworthy: it is the first title to have a bespoke Liberty of London design. The collaboration between Liberty and publishers Faber & Faber (UK edition) unites “the best writers in the world with one of the globe’s foremost design teams”. Just such a lovely cover and I understand there are more book cover collaborations in the pipeline!

The story of life, love, loss, betrayal and war spans the 1920s up to the 195
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Angela, Diane and Esil discuss 38 16 Apr 27, 2018 08:20PM  

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I grew up Italian in Australia, but a scholarship took me to England. I was smitten by London, and still am. In between the day-jobs, I've been writing fiction and non-fiction for 20+ years. I've been teaching creative writing for almost as long. Heartfelt thanks for reading my work and posting reviews. ...more

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