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Iris Origo: Marchesa Of Val D'orcia. Paperback – July 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: David R Godine (July 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567922716
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567922714
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,519,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An affectionate history of the writer and charmer Origo (1902-1988), this biography offers lush descriptions of Italian landscapes and the social intrigues of expatriate life in Florence between the wars. But Moorehead (Bertrand Russell: A Life) ultimately fails to make the reader care about her subject, in part because she neglects to firmly establish her subject's place in modern literature at the outset. Origo (nee Cutting and later married to an Italian nobleman) was an aristocratic Anglo-American reared in Italy. Though an early acquaintance of such luminaries as Edith Wharton and Somerset Maugham, Origo did not launch her writing career until later in life; she had been sidetracked by family tribulations, her conversion of an arid Tuscan valley into a thriving agricultural community, her work with destitute children, the rise of Mussolini and WWII. And while Origo was certainly more than the sum of her literary contributions, it was primarily through her biographies, memoirs and criticism that she gained renown. Moorehead waits too long to bring the full force of Origo's literary ambitions and achievements to bear. Moreover, Origo's presence, admittedly reserved at times, is undermined by excessive scene-setting and a parade of lesser characters. In the end, the reader may depart with the sense of having visited Italy and the forgotten worlds of the idle rich and interwar intelligentsia, but not necessarily of having been permitted a dance with the remarkable marchesa herself. B&w illus.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Eagerly exchanging an existence of idle privilege and social intrigue for one of hard work and literary distinction, Origo led a life characterized by vitality and commitment. Born in 1902 into a wealthy American family, she and her British mother permanently left the U.S. after the untimely death of her father in 1910. Traveling extensively throughout Europe, they eventually settled outside of Florence, becoming prominent members of the stuffy Anglo-Florentine community of expatriates. Asserting her trademark independence, she married Antonio Origo, the illegitimate son of a cavalry officer-sculptor. Together Antonio and Iris purchased and totally revitalized an arid Tuscan valley and renovated a crumbling estate. With virtually no experience and few practical skills, they transformed themselves into agrarian pioneers and their extensive acreage into a prosperous working community supporting more than 200 people. During the war years, they quietly supported the Allies, offering refuge to countless numbers of partisans and prisoners of war. In addition to these accomplishments, Iris also buried one child and raised two more, conducted several heart-wrenching extramarital affairs, and distinguished herself as both a biographer and a literary critic. Moorehead has exquisitely captured the energy and the essence of an aristocrat resolutely committed to her land, her craft, and her nontraditional lifestyle. A magnificent biography, so absorbing and so full of fascinating characters and descriptive details that it reads like fiction. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Frances Ciminelli on December 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the area of Florence, Italy and discovered Iris Origo by way of an article on the gardens at La Foce. I really enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was wonderfully paced and gave good detailed descriptions of the different phases of Iris's life. She must have been a very interesting person. I highly recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan S. Benton on January 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This biography filled in a lot of spaces that were in the autobiography. Iris became much more human in Moorehead's book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cyndi Harlan on June 17, 2014
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Such a moving study, of a family using there wealth and position to improve the life's of others. During one of Italy's darkest times the Italians showed there humanity, at great cost sometimes.
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Among the finest examples of the biographic art. An always excellent portrait of a great woman seen against the background of World War II in Northern Italy.
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