Americanata: Three Sisters in Italy in 1938
Xlibris Corporation, Aug 30, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 216 pages
In 1938 I was twenty years old and living with my parents in Joplin Missouri. I was the youngest of four children with a brother and two sisters. The eldest, Harriet, had married an Italian and they were now living in Milan with their two young sons. Our parents decided to send me and my sister Blossom, 22, to Italy to spend a year with Harriet. It was the most thrilling year of my young life.
We found ourselves suddenly among the wealthy and sophisticated in Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York. We embarked on an ocean liner and cruised the Mediterranean, toured fascist Italy and saw Mussolini. We saw Europe as it slid inevitably toward war. We met people of many nationalities and religions as they fled or braced themselves for the terrible storm which approached. We enjoyed the warmth and generosity of the many friends we made. We fell in love and grew wiser.
This book was written for my Grandchildren and with the help and encouragement of my son, Mike. It has been a great joy to recapture the girl I was sixty years ago. I hope it brings as much pleasure to its readers as it has to its writers.
"A lovely, focused work with rich details and a sure narrative voice that keeps things moving. Well worth the effort. . . the charm and innocence of the sisters is appealing, particularly in these anxious times. It reads almost like a fairy tale . . . Escapist, yet grounded in a precise appreciation of the places and people she meets. Love, adventure, humor, grace, style - all amid the threat of war, reminds me of the movie Tea with Mussolini."
Robert T., New YorkReviewer: A reader from Vienna, VA USA
A trip of a lifetime, a one year sojourn into a world that would soon vanish, is the experience that Becky Landrum relates in this warm, lively memoir.
Two sisters in their early twenties travel from their home in Americas heartland--Joplin, Missouri--to pre-WWII Italy, where their elder sister lives with her husband and children. But travel in 1938 is not a matter of several hours in the air over the Atlantic. The trip itself is exciting and glamorous, first by train to New York, then by ocean liner to the Mediterranean and exotic ports before reaching Genoa. Once at their sisters home in Milan, the American "girls" (as Ms. Landrum refers to herself and her sister, Blossom) become part of the social whirl for foreigners there.
Ms. Landrums story (co-authored by her son, Mike) is about more than the cocktail parties, "dressing" for dinner, and nightclubs (though that is pretty fun stuff, to be sure). She is a lively tour guide, taking the reader along as she and Blossom climb the dome at St. Peters, eat at Alfredos and see Mussolini address the crowd from his balcony in Rome; or as they live every tourists nightmare and discover in the middle of nowhere that they are on the wrong train. She also writes about family and the strength that comes from that bond. Most appealingly, Ms. Landrum writes with candor and fondness about her young self. Her style is both direct and friendly--what you would expect from a plain-spoken Missourian.
The world as it was in 1938 is gone forever, but Ms. Landrum gives us a glimpse of it through young American eyes. Its a great view.
Yes, I know I said I wouldnt have time to read this lovely little book for weeks - but I made the mistake of reading "just the introduction" and couldnt put it down. That is the best compliment I can give any book - when it holds my attention so completely that I finish it in two days it means I loved it!
The lovely conversational style, and the frank, unassuming speech of a no-nonsense Midwesterner who has seen the world and knows there is no place like home is more than a remembrance - it is a teachi
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