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Elise Valmorbida grew up Italian in Australia, but fell in love with London. She's a designer, writer and teacher of creative writing. In recent years, she produced a feature film. Her fiction includes Matilde Waltzing, The TV President and The Winding Stick. Her non-fiction includes SAXON - The Making of a Guerrilla Film, and The Book of Happy Endings, now published in four languages and four continents.
March 2018 Book of the Month | On the National Fiction Shortlist the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2019 “To believe, to obey, to fight” is the new prayer of Mussolini’s Italy in 1936. We are in Fosso, a town in the rural district of Veneto on the fertile plains where food is plentiful until the Germans and then the partisans help themselves. Maria, our protagonist, helps run the local grocer with her husband Achille, until he is imprisoned for black-marketeering. She needs to keep her family of 5 children alive and safe until her husband is released… or not. She will do anything to protect and fight for her children, anything to keep them safe, fed and alive. Coming from a large family herself she is not afraid of hard work. So we live with her through the war to the 1950s, through times of dreadful hardship and fear to new beginnings. Laced with the feel of Italy, its food, traditions and scenic splendour, this is a very fine novel indeed. Stylish and beautifully archaic in its writing, it has a hypnotic quality, difficult to draw yourself away from. Highly recommended.
WINNER OF THE 2019 VICTORIAN PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARD FOR FICTION Shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Award 2019 Walter Scott Prize Academy Recommended 1923, north-eastern Italy: Maria Vittoria's father has left the village to find her a husband. He has taken his mule, a pack of food and a photograph of Maria. There are no eligible men in this valley, or the next one, and her father will not allow her to marry just anyone. Just as Fascism blooms in the country, the crops ripen, and the state demands babies - a new generation. There is much work to be done, and Maria faces a stony path, but one she will surely climb to the summit.
';A riveting adventure for the soul . . .just the kind of evocative historical fiction I love.'Sara Gruen, author ofAt the Water's EdgeandWater for ElephantsAn epic, inspiring novel about one woman's survival in the hardscrabble Italian countryside and her determination to protect her family throughout the Second World Warby any means possible Maria Vittoria is twenty-five when her father brings home the man who will become her husband. It is 1923 in the austere Italian mountain village where her family has lived for generations, and the man she sees is tall and handsome and has survived the First World War without any noticeable scars. Taking just the linens she has sewn that make up her dowry and a statue of the Madonna that sits by her bedside, Maria leaves the only life she has ever known to begin a family. But her future will not be what she imagines. The Madonna of the Mountains follows Maria over the next three decades, as she moves to the town where she and her husband become shopkeepers, through the birth of their five children, through the hardships and cruelties of the National Fascist Party Rule and the Second World War. Struggling with the cost of survival at a time when food is scarce and allegiances are questioned, Maria trusts no one and fears everyoneher Fascist cousin, the madwoman from her childhood, her watchful neighbors, the Nazis and the Partisans who show up hungry at her door. As Maria's children grow up and her marriage endures its own hardships, she must hold her family together with resilience, love, and faith, until she makes a fateful decision that will change the course of all their lives. A sweeping saga about womanhood, loyalty, war, religion, family, food, motherhood, and marriage, The Madonna of the Mountains is a poignant look at the span of one woman's life as the rules change and her world becomes unrecognizable. In depicting the great cost of war and the ineluctable power of time on a life, Elise Valmorbida has created an unforgettable portrait of a woman navigating both the unforeseen and the inevitable.Advance praise for Madonna of the Mountains';The moral and ethical questions raised propel the story beyond the particulars into the universal.'Kirkus Reviews';It is a bewitching but entirely unsentimental portrait of one woman's attempt to keep her family safe in turbulent times.'The Times(UK), Book of the Month';A solid choice for readers who appreciate layered family sagas.'Library Journal
1923Maria 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 contra 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.