The Madonna of the Mountains The Madonna of the Mountains discussion

Angela, Diane and Esil discuss

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Diane S ☔ Starting on April 2nd. Since the first is Easter Sunday, though we would start the second. Hope that's okay?

Angela M Thanks , Diane ! Monday is perfect . I won’t get much reading in on Sunday .

Esil Thanks, Diane. That’s perfect for me too. I’ll be on a train coming home from Montreal that day. Lots of time for reading :)

Angela M I just took a look to see how we might break this down for commenting. It’s divided in sections by years . There are seven plus A Coda. Though not evenly divided , I thought it might make sense to read complete sections.

My suggestion is ,but if another breakdown makes more sense to you, that’s perfectly fine with me.

1. 1923, 1928, 1936
2. 1942, 1944
3.1948, 1950 , Coda

Hope you both have a lovely Easter. I’m thrilled that I don’t have to cook for 12 people . We’re going out for brunch with the kids and grandkids. It will cost more than cooking at home but a stress free day is worth it !

Esil That works for me. I’ll be starting tomorrow morning.

We’ve had a nice Easter weekend. We’ve been in Montreal visiting my mother and other family, and my son was able to join us from university. We’ll be heading back home tomorrow morning on the train.

Hope you’ve both had a good holiday.

Angela M I’ll start tomorrow too . Glad you had a good day with your family, Esil . Hope you did too , Diane. We had a nice day. Wish it had been a little warmer, though.

Esil I’ve just finished the first three parts. So far, I’m liking it. It’s very atmospheric and feels like it paints a stark picture of the times and Italy between the wars. It’s so hard to imagine living in a world where your father chooses your husband, and the first time you really have anything to do with him is on your wedding night. The author does a really good job of giving us a sense of Maria’s life. I must say that I have an impending sense of doom...

Angela M I finished the first three parts too . I’m liking it quite a bit also . Easy to get into and I like the writing. Sad for Maria when she gets home from her sister’s wedding and discovers things about Achille that she didn’t know. I love these stories that take place in Italy. I think they appeal to me because all of my grandparents were born in Italy. I love the Italian phrases that are interspersed, even though I don’t remember much of what I studied years ago - lol .I love the language and the adages .

Definitely a different place and time in terms of marriage .

I do have an ominous feeling as well .

Diane S ☔ Glad you both had a wonderful Easter. Mine was great as well. My new avatar is of my two youngest granddaughters, Rue, is now four months and Cate is three.

I have read the first three sections. I feel sorry for Maria, I hate that he hits her, but she doesn't seem as upset about it as I am. Status seems to be everything. Liking the history too. Delfina, positively scary but pitable as well. She may be mad but I think she knows alot, there are truths there too.

Angela M Diane , I hate that Achille hits Maria too ! She just seems to accept it .

Care and Rue are just adorable! I can’t believe Cate is three already . Is that one of the hats You bought for Rue ? So cute !

message 11: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I’ve finished the next two sections. It’s hard to watch Maria do what she has to do for the survival of her family. But I think the author does a really good job showing the chaos of war, and how ordinary people are not motivated by heroism but by survival. I’m curious to see what happens to the family after the war.

No reading for me until tonight, so it might take me a couple of days to finish this one.

Diane — that is indeed an adorable photo!

Angela M I’ve finished the next two sections. So often in war stories we get the view from the battles, the bombings , so I’m finding this depiction of the impact of the war on the people away from that interesting. I admire Maria for trying to take control of keeping her family safe and fed, and finding it sad to think of what she has to do. A strong character, for sure.
Like , Esil I’m interested in what happens after the war . This really has held my interest from the beginning.

Diane S ☔ I've finished the next to as well. Maria is such an amazingly strong woman. Wonder if in her circumstances I would be as strong. Was actually surprised that her husband came back. Such horrible times these were, I can't imagine living through that. Nor can I imagine eating some of the things they had to eat to survive, and what they had to do. The fear always with them. Agree the author does a wonderful job showing us the effects of war on regular citizens. Hope things get better for her and her family after the war.

Angela M I finished it late last night and I really loved it. So glad that things got better for the family after the war. I could see that Amelia was in some ways so much like her mother . Glad that they reconciled in the end. I wanted to slap Primo at times . But he is not atypical of the men in old school Italian families, even those that emigrated .

I liked so many things about this book - the place as I’ve said was an easy connection, the characters, especially Maria. The history- although we don’t experience the war in the same ways as in other WWII books but it is about the war and fascism.
It was well done . I liked the intermittent words from The Madonna.

My rating will be 4 + stars . I may round up .

message 15: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I ended up staying up and finishing it last night too. Things worked out better for Maria and her family, but it was hard to see how harsh Maria could be. It's understandable given her background but was so sad for Amelia.

I wonder if this is partly about the author's own family. Her biography says that she is of Italian background and grew up in Australia. I would love to know what happened to Maria and her family after they moved to Australia.

This will be 4 stars for me. I thought that the author did a really good job portraying the challenges for ordinary women and families to survive during war time. Harsh realities that don't always make people nice and that force people into making hard decisions to survive. And those choices have long term consequences.

This was a great choice. Any thoughts for our next read?

Diane S ☔ Im almost finished. A few days ago I broke a tooth. My jaw line on the right side is swollen and infected. Went to the dentist yesterday and he gave me antibiotics and narco for pain. Saturday he will dig out the shards of the broken tooth. Oh Happy day! Lol

I have a question. The writing in italics where advice and guilt is heaped on Maria. Is that supposed to be the Virgin Mary talking or her own conscience?

message 17: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Yikes, Diane. I'm really sorry about the tooth. This seems like the last thing you need.

I read it as being her own conscience. Given how religious she was, her conscience took the form of Mary.

Diane S ☔ That is what I thought too, just wanted to see how you each perceived it.

Thanks, Esil. I'll just channel my inner Maria, which is my middle name by the way, and soldier on.

Do either of you have My Ex-Life: A Novel, it's getting pretty good reviews in the book journal. The publisher is Flatiron. Or I'm open to any other suggestions.

Angela M Diane , sorry about your tooth- ouch ! Hope the meds help.

I thought that it was Maria’s conscience as well telling herself what she thought The Madonna would be saying. It’s a religious society and I think she believed .

I agree that she was a bit harsh with Amelia but maybe thinking about her own marriage and wanting more for her daughter .

I don’t have the book , Diane . I’ll check it out . I have so many arcs for May so I might look to see if you two have any of them.

Diane , take it easy !

Angela M I’d love a sequel!

message 21: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I just posted my review:

A solid 4 stars.

I don't have that book either, but it looks good.

I have a lot of ARCs for May. I'm sure we have at least one in common!

Angela M Great review, Esil . This was definitely a good one and a realistic portrayal I thought also. I’m working on my review.

If we can find one from May or June that we all have marked to read , that would be great . I’d rather do that than add another book . I’ll check further .

Diane S ☔ Even if i dont have it listed, I still may have it or can get it. So if you find one you both have mention it.

Angela M I just posted my review. I really enjoyed this one .

Diane , I hope your feeling better !
I’ll check titles and come back here .

Angela M All of us have marked to read published in June:

Tin Man

Esil and I have :
Love and Ruin (May)
The Emperor of Shoes (June)
Little Big Love (June)

Diane S ☔ The tin man is very short,so why don't we read that one and then Love and Ruin.

I have all of these, but let's save the June ones for our June read.

Have another question about the book. Why do they keep saying they are going to La merica, which I take to mean America,though in fact they are going to Australia?

Angela M So for May - Tin Man , then Love and Ruin ?

Diane, I wondered the same thing. At first when they talked about it I assumed America and it wasn’t until the end when they actually made the plans that Australia was mentioned. Maybe just to mean leaving the Italy. I searched a little and all I found was it’s a slang for America. We should raise the question with the author on the book page unless Esil knows .

message 28: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I'm happy with the Tin Man then Love and Ruin Plan.

I assumed that it was a reference to America too, but that it really was meant as a dream to get away to somewhere new. But I have no special knowledge.

Diane S ☔ I finished yesterday,but haven't written my review yet. Apparently the authors family immigrated from Italy to Australia. Im not sure how I feel about the ending, nor do I understand the objection they had to Amelia marrying the man she loved. You would think that after everything they had gone through, they would have lessened some of their class consciousness and hubris. Also that Primo protected his mother but was so harsh with his sister. I rated this four as well because I felt that this covered so much ground, Made the war years personal by focusing on one family.

Angela M Diane , how are you feeling?

I didn’t much like Primo and the way he treated Amelia but I don’t think his behavior is atypical in “old school “ Italian families. The males are treated very differently than the girls in a family. My sister in law was born in Italy and came here with her family when she was 6 . She has 4 brothers and she and her sister and her mother would make a plate to eat only after her father and her brothers had started to eat. But Primo in my opinion took his self proclaimed role as head of the family to the extreme.

I wonder if they were against Amelia’s marriage because after what they went through with hardly any food , they wanted to be sure she married well off rather than for love. I think Maria does come around in the end.

message 31: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I agree that it's hard to see Maria's lack of flexibility given what she had gone through, but I think the author did a good job of showing how people can be strongly influenced by the environment and culture rather than by what makes sense or seems reasonable. I thought that one of the strengths of the book is that Maria is not without her flaws.

Diane -- I also tend to agree that the end was not as strong as the rest of the book but I thought the war years were so strong that it was an easy 4 stars for me.

Diane S ☔ The dentist's office called me today and asked if I could come in at 1:30, so though I dreaded it, I also wanted to get it over. The numbing shots are wearing off and now I'm in quite a bit of pain ,he had to do a lot of digging. Drugs will be my friend for the next few days I imagine.

Diane S ☔ Sorry I'm so late posting, ended up so behind in my reviews.

Now I'll go read both of yours.

Angela M Fantastic, Diane .

Are you still in pain?

Diane S ☔ Yes, but not as much. At least now the nsrco is working. The antibiotic though is making me sick, nauseous, and lightheaded. Still spending part of the day, laying down. Reading time though!

Angela M It takes more than pain to keep you from reading- lol ! Glad you are some what better .

Diane S ☔ I seem to have reversed the order of our reads. Hope that's okay, brain fog with so much going on at work. Learning new ordering system is making my brain feel like mush.

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