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October 31 , 2009

Rosina, the Midwife


Between 1870 and 1970, 26 million Italians left their homeland and travelled to places like Canada, Australia and the United States, in search of work. Many of them never returned to Italy. Against this historic backdrop comes the story of Rosina, a Calabrian matriarch, who worked as a midwife in an area where only one doctor served three villages. She was also the only member of the Russo family to remain in Italy after the mass migration of the 1950s. Written by Rosina’s great-great- granddaughter, Rosina, the Midwife is a charming memoir that is at once a Canadian story and an Italian one.

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Through Kluthe’s meticulous research and great insight, we see her great-grandfather Generoso labouring through the harsh Edmonton winter in order to buy passage to Canada for his wife and children; we glimpse her grandmother Rose huddled in a third-class cabin, sick from the motion of the boat; and we watch, teary-eyed, as her great-great-grandmother Rosina is forced to say goodbye, one by one, to the people she loves.

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