Written as a memoir, each chapter describes a particular incident in Lucia's life which shows the constant struggle between her parents and the perverse effect it has on her and her family. From her complicated and unwanted birth, to her witnessing a suicide at age 3, to her stint as a runaway at age 14, the story progresses to the final crisis where as a young woman she is turned out of her house and banished from her family forever.
Told in breathtakingly beautiful prose, this is a powerful and timeless story of a dying woman's courageous attempt to come to terms with her past and the troubled family that dominated it.
When I first started reading this book, I felt a little confused. The woman who is telling her story is 110 years old. She is speaking to a reporter who is using a recorder. Even though I had read the book blurb, I was working back from present day and was expecting to read a story from the turn of the century, as in late 1800s to early 1900s. So, when she was talking about trains and railroad tracks in the 1950s, I was thrown for a loop.
That confusion melted away as I fell into the story. Each tale that was woven was a powerful one. Children should never be born into families that despise them so. But the problems facing Lucia started well before she was even a twinkle in her parents' eyes. Their own parents and the generation before that were just as badly messed up and unloved, with their own set of dramatic problems. It seems like a never-ending cycle.
There are so many characters who weave the tapestry of Lucia's life. Sometimes I got confused as to who belonged to whom, especially when people were named after each other. But the rich detail given to the stories reminded me of sitting with each of my grandmothers, listening to them tell stories of people in their past. The voice is that of an elderly woman who is sharing the wisdom that she gained through a hard knock life. At times, it also reminded me a bit of Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes).
It is a long read that isn't meant to be devoured in one setting. You have to take it story by story, to let each one sink in. Her story is also not a happy one, as she is unloved and essentially emotionally abused. I rotated chapters around other books I was reading.
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About Susan SperanzaONCE UPON A TIME...
...I was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island where I had an interesting and creative childhood. Once in college, I studied Psychology and Philosophy, but since "thinking" didn't translate into earning money or job security, I worked at a variety of different and unrelated jobs both in New York City and on Long Island.
In order to keep me sane through all the craziness of life, I spent my spare time writing. Anything and everything. The culmination of this was a fantasy - The City of Light - which has recently been reissued as an ebook.
I took up the hobby of dog showing and breeding and produced many Pekingese Champions. You can see them over at our Castlerigg Pekingese website.
Somewhere in the middle of my life so far, after a great personal upheaval, I went back to school, became a High School Librarian. I managed to fulfill my childhood dream of living in the country when I finally escaped suburbia and moved to Vermont where I now happily live with my beautiful Pekes.
But I've never stopped writing.
My biography (as with my life, I hope) is to be continued...
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