1923: Maria Vittoria is embroidering a sheet for her dowry trunk.
Her father has gone to find her a husband. He’s taken his mule, a photograph and a pack of food: home-made sopressa sausage, cold polenta, a little flask of wine—no need to take water—the world is full of water.
There are no eligible men in this valley or the next one, and her father will not let her marry just anyone, and now, despite Maria’s years, she is still healthy. Her betrothed will see all that. He’ll be looking for a woman who can do the work.
Maria can do the work. Everyone in the contrà says that.
And the Lord knows Maria will need to be able to work. Fascism blooms as crops ripen, the state craves babies just as the babies cry for food. Maria faces a stony path, but one she will surely climb to the summit.
In this sumptuous and elegant novel, you will taste the bigoli co l’arna, touch the mulberry leaves cut finer than organdie, and feel the strain of one woman attempting to keep her family safe in the most dangerous of times.
I loved seeing the launch of this novel on social media and the event at Liberty looked fabulous. The book itself is a thing of beauty and the jacket design where Faber and Faber and Liberty worked hand in hand is a thing of sheer beauty that looked absolutely gorgeous in my #OnTheShelfie and is sure to be one of the most covetable books this year. It’s aroused many admiring glances from my fellow holidaymakers and I’m sure it will be a huge success as it absolutely deserves to be.
It was my absolute pleasure to take part in the blog tour today. There are lots of other fantastic bloggers on the tour and their views on this fantastic read are well worth visiting their blogs for. I’d like to thank Joanna Lee from Faber & Faber for asking me to take part in the tour and recommend that you pack a copy for yourself if you’re heading off somewhere hot this summer. You will definitely find Maria’s story hard to forget.
Writer on the shelf
Elise Valmorbida’s new novel The Madonna of the Mountains is to be published by Faber & Faber (UK) in March/April 2018.
Her debut novel Matilde Waltzing – also historical fiction – was published in Australia to critical acclaim. The TV President was described by The Times Literary Supplement as “luridly entertaining fiction”, and The Winding Stick was reviewed as “a literary classic”. Her non-fiction work, The Book of Happy Endings, has been published on four continents in four languages.
Elise won the Trailblazer Award (Edinburgh International Film Festival) for her role as producer and script consultant of indie Britfilm SAXON. She wrote ‘The Making of a Guerrilla Film’ story which was published with SAXON the screenplay.
Elise teaches creative writing at Central Saint Martins and Arvon. Her literary agent is Clare Alexander of Aitken Alexander Associates.