All's Well House
Published Nov 2010
Trade paperback, 412 pages
Teresa Neumann has deftly transported me to Italy during WWII with a story that made me go through a wide range of emotions. Based on a true story, Bianca's Vineyard explores an Italian family's loyalty, strength, forgiveness and tragedy in the face of a dark period in Italian history. With the backdrop of Mussolini's Italy, the hardships of immigration and an unforgettable family, this story comes alive through Neumann's gift of storytelling.
Egisto is one of three sons who is commissioned to go to America so that he can work and help his family financially. He is a young sculptor in love with Marietta and wants to marry her, but things don't turn out the way he thinks and instead he ends up marrying Armida Sigali. Together they leave for America and forge a new life. Egisto becomes very successful but even after ten years Armida has not adjusted to living in Minnesota. And that's when things begin to go downhill.
This is essentially Armida's story. She is an enigmatic character. I felt all kinds of emotions when it came to her: pity, anger, admiration, disgust, understanding. I was also attracted to Egisto (who reminded me of my husband) and his sister Carilda the most. Because these are people who have actually existed, this story had an even greater impact on me. I loved the poignant scenes in Tuscany between Egisto and his family; I loved the small village life; I learned so much about how war affected the Italians, especially the civilians. Neumann brought this aspect to life so vividly, I felt like I was there and my heart ached for how the Italians suffered at the hands of Mussolini who they once thought was a great man.
From the book cover to the setting to the characters, I liked everything about this book. It's a story that I understood because of my Italian background and because I've heard it in the stories I used to hear at my grandmother's table. My parents are immigrants and we have family back in Italy. Whenever I used to visit my maternal grandmother in Rome, she would tell me of her childhood, about how they survived the war, about how she would smear my gorgeous aunt's face with dirt so the German soldiers wouldn't notice her.
Neumann tells the story of tragedy and redemption so well. Never predictable, always intriguing, I was truly captivated. Her insight on the Italian culture in one of the most written-about eras in history, was so keen, that I wondered if she had Italian blood in her. If you liked movies like Cinema Paradiso or Malèna, you will like Bianca's Vineyard. As a matter of fact, I think this novel should be made into a movie. I can't wait to read Neumann's next book, Domenico's Table. This one has made it on my list of 2015 Best Reads.
To read more reviews, please visit Teresa's tour page on Italy Book Tours.
About the Author:
Teresa Neumann and her musician husband live in Oregon's beautiful Willamette Valley near their three children. As well as being an author and journalist, Teresa loves to fiddle on her violin and live "la dolce vita" in Italy whenever she can talk her family into going with her.
Connect with Teresa: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter
Where to buy the book:
And now for the giveaway!