Risking it all: Leaving Italy to live in Africa in the 1950s. I was born Maria Martore in 1934. But I have been renamed Iucci by my husband, Eugenio Piergiovanni. He is thirteen years my senior and is fluent in three languages. We have left Italy and the only family I have ever known, to go to Africa, seeking adventures and fortune. Is my husband's dream of selling Italian Haute Couture to expatriates ridiculous? Ciao! WE’RE IN AFRICA recounts the story of Marisa Parker’s Italian parents, who in 1955, emigrate to Salisbury in Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Africa. They open a fashion shop selling exquisite imported Italian clothes. However, it is Eugenio’s charm and astute business sense, and Iucci’s good looks and sincerity, that draws them into the community’s inner circles.
The ‘Rule of Three’ is not just a fundamental framework for creative writing. Online articles by Brian Clark and Dave Linehan provide interesting insight into how following this will make your writing more engaging and contain the hooks that are needed. In fact, the Rule of Three is relevant in all aspects of life. The most acclaimed speeches use this technique–as far back as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address–and for today’s classic joke structure of set-up, anticipation, and punchline. An academic once told me that if you delete the three sentences at the beginning of each chapter (from your manuscript’s final draft), you will arrive at the sentence that should be the first one. It’s about removing the fluffy stuff and hooking in your reader. What do you think of the beginning of my book, “Ciao! WE’RE IN AFRICA”?
#ReaderLove - Love comes in all forms and sizes and, Oh! The Things We Do for Love (or because of love) … to quote the song by British band, 10cc. In 1957, it had been three years since my Italian parents migrated to Salisbury, Rhodesia. My mother gives in to my father’s manoeuvrings when he organises for a sixteen-year-old boy Paolo, the son of Esther, a close friend and employee in their business, to drive my mother to Johannesburg, South Africa (over 1,100km away). I’d met Paolo and his family many years ago, but we had lost touch. With this book advertised on Amazon, Paolo made contact through my website. How extraordinary to find out that we both live in Eastern Australia. For Paolo, reading my family’s story has brought back many memories. For me, a precious gift of some unseen photographs during that time. An amazing experience and especially emotional for my 85-year-old mum!
Readers of this second book seem to come away with one of two experiences. Either they lived in Rhodesia, Africa between 1950-1980, and the book stirs up fond memories. Or, the reader is a woman, and this story resonates with her, as she empathises with my mother, who has left behind all that is familiar, to forge a new life with her partner, so transitioning from a naïve girl to an assured woman. When I hear either of these reviews, it is most welcome, as I had hoped this account of my parents’ lives would appeal to different audiences. The excerpt I have chosen is from Chapter 3. My parents, Eugenio and Maria (Iucci) are visiting with an Italian couple on their recently purchased tobacco farm in Umtali, North Rhodesia in 1955. The trip proves to be an eventful one.
A timid girl. A young soldier. A love story. GOODBYE TO Italia is an award-winning non-fiction romantic story of Italian drama, courage and humour. It is set in Italy and Africa during World War 2. So as to stay true to the retelling by my mamma and pappa, and to capture the essence of living through those times, the chapters in the first half of the book interchange between the two diverse characters, Mariolina and Eugenio (13 years older than her), as they come of age.
It is easy to fall prone to thoughts of disappointment and discontent. How much nicer the day is when we smile at a stranger in the street and receive a grin, even if it is gap-toothed! Appreciating the small pleasures in life and taking moments to breathe and just ‘be’, are important reminders for me, so as to celebrate achievements and plan what small step I can put in place to lead me forwards. Both my parents had this ability to grab at opportunities and turn ‘lemons into lemonade’! In 1943, my father turned twenty-one in a Prisoner of War camp in South Africa. His birthday was unremarkable, and he worried that he was beginning to lose his mind. But he rallied and determinedly nudged those voices aside looking for things to do, and how to help others, in a crowded concentration camp of 63,000 inmates.
I cannot imagine what it was like for my mum as a six-year-old in Turin, North Italy in 1940. During World War 2, bombings, a lack of food and intensely cold winters killed a great deal of people almost as bad as if they were fighting on the front line. In ‘GOODBYE TO Italia’, my mum and dad’s experiences interchange during the first half of the book, as they were so diverse. What courage and perseverance were demonstrated by those women and children! How fortunate we and our children are today; we must never forget. #ReaderLove
It was an emotional moment when my mum handed me my father’s bedraggled diaries that he had written whilst incarcerated in the Zonderwater (South Africa), Prisoner of War camp during WW2. I’d been badgering my mum to provide more information about pappa, as the story I was writing about my Italian parents in Italy and Africa, was very one-sided. Needless to say, the diary discovery blew me away. It also meant that it took far longer to complete the manuscript. I had to work through my father’s ineligible scrawls. Not only was colloquial Italian used but different shades of ink or stubby pencil scratching made it hard to interpret. I chose to write GOODBYE TO Italia in alternating chapters: my mother as a young child, and her war experiences and my father, a young army officer. The excerpt I have chosen from the book, is from when my father was captured in 1941.
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