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The Madonna of the Mountains: A Novel by…

The Madonna of the Mountains: A Novel

by Elise Valmorbida

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The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida is the story of a woman and her family surviving in Italian countryside in the years leading up to World War II and during the war. The story is a quiet one, focused on the day to day struggles of life. That may be purposeful, but in this case, it leads to a very slow paced story. I keep waiting for more. Note that the ending to me seems to indicate that a sequel might be coming.

Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2019/02/the-madonna-of-mountains.html

Reviewed for NetGalley. ( )
  njmom3 | Feb 5, 2019 |
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 economy and political climate during those years.

Readers follow Maria as she marries, moves away and runs a market with her husband, Achille. They start a family and do fairly well until World War II. They endure difficult times during the war years, but this is not a story about labor camps or exterminations.

This is the story a marriage, of how to endure and how to forgive. I really enjoyed reading this and the look into Italian life during that time was so authentic that I could easily picture it in my mind.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the opportunity to read an advance copy and give my honest review. ( )
  tamidale | May 8, 2018 |
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 household, her life is not simple. He doesn't always treat her kindly,but her love for her children and the strong bonds of family, keep her going. Until an unexpected event,make her the temporary head of her household, a time when their business is failing, not enough food items available to stock the shelves of their grocery. She knows she must do everything possible for the survival of her household, and this leads to an act that will haunt her days and nights. The struggle to find food, trapping small birds with putrid olive oil, lizards, anything they can get to eat to help them survive.

This was also a time when neighbor reported on neighbor, when they are caught between the Nazis, the Fascists and the partisans,all wanting food, wanting loyalty. Such difficult times, but Maria tries her hardest to keep her family healthy and intact. This book raises many moral and ethical questions. What would one do to survive, what is one's self worth? Maria faces these questions,maybe not always the supposed right way, but in the only way she can see a life moving forward. She will pay dearly for some of her decisions.

Strong religious faith, Maria carries, has with her at all times a statue of the Virgin Mary, and often feels as if Mary speaks to her directly. Condemnation and warnings, words to keep her on track. Since this was our buddy read of the month for Angela,Esil and I we decided it was Marias own conscience
that is being portrayed, spoken.

We all enjoyed this one, our ratings close to or the same, it was an interesting look at a family dealing with everyday problems but also dealing with the harsher realities of the war years. I didn't feel the ending was as strong as it could be, but I know that this is a journey the authors own family undertook. On the whole a very interesting and well written read.

ARC from Edelweiss. ( )
  Beamis12 | Apr 7, 2018 |
Excellent work of historical fiction. The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida takes you to a place not often seen in the genre - 1920-1950 Northern Italy during the rise and fall of Mussolini and the events and horrors of World War II. The story follows a large Italian family during the times leading up to, during, and after World War II and all of the struggles they had to endure. Given from the perspective of Maria, the matriarch of a family central to their mountain town, you watch as her life progresses from suitable bride-to-be to strong leader of her own family. The story is well written all of the characters are well-rounded, I enjoyed this book very much. Well done, 5 stars. ( )
  mookie86 | Feb 25, 2018 |
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"This epic novel follows the life of a woman in the hardscrabble Italian countryside, from her girlhood through marriage and motherhood through two World Wars and during the Fascist party rule. A sweeping saga about womanhood, religion, loyalty, war, family, motherhood, and marriage, The Madonna of the Mountains is set in Italy during the 1920s to the 1950s, and follows its heroine, Maria Vittoria, from her girlhood through her marriage and motherhood, through the National Fascist Party Rule and ending with her decision to emigrate with her family to Australia. The novel takes us into the mind and heart of one woman who must hold her family together with resilience, love, and faith, in a world where the rules are constantly changing"--… (more)

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