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June 14 , 2010

Mother Tongue

An American Life in Italy


Fourteen years ago, the American writer Wallis Wilde-Menozzi moved with her husband and daughter to Parma, a prosperous city in northern Italy. Searching for a way to find a place within a city that has existed since Roman times, she conducted a highly personal investigation of the often baffling, closed way of life she encountered. Mother Tongue explores Parma, largely through the lives of its women, some historical figures—Giuseppe Verdi, Correggio, the Renaissance badessa Giovanna Piacenza—and other extraordinary individuals. It is also a remarkable, probing evocation of an American life that has been tried and tempered by two very different societies. No other book evokes so poignantly and profoundly the role of food, faith, and family attachment in Italian life and, by reflection, in our own.

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