Where It All Began

Ann Cornelisen, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (281p) ISBN 978-0-525-24829-3
Cornelisen's love affair with Italy, which has inspired a succession of books ( Women of the Shadows , etc.), began in 1954 when she went to work for the Save the Children Fund in southern Italian villages still devastated by war. A recent Vassar graduate, she planned to study archeology in Rome, a city she affectionately describes here as provincial and shabbily genteel. This leisurely, memorable, affecting memoir measures her transformation from callow tourist to good samaritan who helped establish food distribution centers and nurseries for poor children. She portrays southern Italian women's lives as extremely circumscribed by a rigid, unwritten code. In historical flashbacks we see how the fascist street-spy system was foiled in the villages, and we watch the government bureaucracy of the 1950s stifle creativity and mobility. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-14-014783-4
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