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On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal…

On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal (1986)

by Mary Taylor Simeti

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Very good book abt life in Sicily,its history and traditions. Highly recommended.
Written by an American women that went to visit and never left.She married and rasied her family in Sicily. ( )
  LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
Mary Taylor went to Sicily after college graduation and married a Sicilian. She presents her life on the island by seasons, not chronologically. She talks of the flowers ( a lot), of the food, the Greek legends, the religious festivals, and the mafia. She also discusses her attempt at coming to terms with having chosen to live her life in sicily. ( )
  pnorman4345 | Jan 5, 2012 |
Simeti is a Radcliffe grad who traveled to Italy to write a paper, and ended up marrying a Sicilian. She recounts her life in and around Palermo as an expat. The book is organized by the four seasons. Although it covers one year, she wanders back and forth through time. She is very observant, especially with respect to the seasonal flora. She also interweaves considerable history and of course food and the mafia. She is an excellent writer (see also "Travels With A Medieval Queen"). This one of the better books I have read on Sicily. ( )
1 vote nemoman | May 3, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679764143, Paperback)

Mary Taylor Simeti arrived in Sicily in 1962 to do volunteer work. Freshly graduated from Radcliffe College after growing up in a distinguished and privileged New York City family, the last thing she expected was to fall in love and marry a Sicilian. On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal is the ambivalent love story of an intelligent, complex, and self-reflective woman. The book recounts the events of 1983, the year Simeti turned 42. Her narrative alternates between Palermo, where her children attend school and her husband Toninno is a professor of agricultural economy, and Bosco, in eastern Sicily, where she shoulders demanding responsibilities on the working farm that has belonged to her husband's family for three generations.

Simeti feels the isolation of being an expatriate and outsider, although she claims to welcome this perspective when faced with frustration and disgust at the pervading political corruption and corrosive effects of the Mafia on everyday life. Despite her natural diffidence, she shares personal insights that makeOn Persephone's Island as compelling as her prose. Simeti intersperses rich helpings of Sicilian history and culture with mundane events and insight into what motivates the peasants essential to the survival of the family farm. And she makes pessimistic observations about the complexity of changing times in a society where the persistent reliance on feudal relationships and agriculture is finally crumbling.

An academic manqué, Simeti researches and ruminates on the mythological underpinnings of the many holidays and festivals that punctuate the rhythm of Sicilian life. She focuses particularly on the Greek goddesses Persephone and Demeter, who held Sicily under their protection. She eventually discovers a correlation between her own situation and the story of Persephone, who alternately inhabited the worlds of light and darkness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:26 -0400)

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