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Umbertina: A Novel Paperback – January 1, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

LJ's reviewer found this first novel a tad long but nonetheless "readable, perceptive, and rich in detail" (LJ 10/15/79). It tells the story of four generations of women, beginning in Italy in the 1860s and ending in the United States in the 1960s. This edition includes a scholarly afterword.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"An important novel for these times . . . through a dazzling interplay of American and Italian characters in both countries, Helen Barolini delineates the major concerns of all thinking American ethnics." —The Philadelphia Inquirer

"An ambitious saga which spans the history and probes some of the tensions of the Italian American . . . panoramic, descriptive, and solidly crafted." —Publishers Weekly

"Readable, perceptive, and rich in detail." —Library Journal

"Umbertina should be read. . . . Barolini redeems from silence, from neglect, those brave women upon whose shoulders [Italian Americans] should be proud to stand." —Newsletter of the Italian-American Institute
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY; Reprint edition (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155861205X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558612051
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Frank Gado on February 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
Rendered in a convincing realism, Helen Barolini 's novel depicts a search for definition as woman and American through three generations, starting with the eponymous Umbertina. One may justifiably assume that the author has lived her subject--so sensitively does she enter and depict it. I would emphatically recommend this book to any American of Italian descent who wishes to understand the experience of his or her forebears and the need of successive generations to come to terms with the past. But that is not to limit its audience. At base, this is an American book, well worth the attention of those willing to feel the struggle, victory, and loss involved in the acquisition of an AMerican identity.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
UMBERTINA is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. I had purchased it years ago and have re read it every summer. I feel like I am on a trip back in time through Italy. Such deep emotion.
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Format: Paperback
Helen Barolini (nee Mollica) has established a deservedly solid reputation as a writer who has focused on the lives of women connected to the Italy-to-The-USA avventura. The book, Umbertina centers around the life courses of three women: Umbertina, Marguerite (her granddaughter), and Tina (Marguerite's eldest child, named for her great grandmother, Umbertina). Barolini's description of the life of Umbertina chronicles a classic contadina-to-capitalist tale. Umbertina started her life in Castagna - a typical mountain town in the "instep" of the Italian boot. Barolini aptly describes the misery of life in that town during the years of the mass emigration. She paints a convincing word picture of the serf-like existence of the landless peasants. whose conditions had changed little following the unification of the peninsula under a constitutional monarchy. A series of events leads to Umbertina's marriage to Serafino Longobardi. Barolini credibly recounts the story of their journey from small landholders struggling to pay off their land in the village of Castagna to their occupation of a grand mansion, maintained by the income from a hugely successful produce and importing business established in Cato (pseudonym for Utica), New York. For those who have not read similar stories, Barolini's account can serve as a valid prototype for accounts of the ways in which thousands of participants in the Italy-to-The-USA avventura established their families' affluence. Such stories represent the foundation of the oft-repeated claim, "They came with nothing, there were illiterate, they didn't even speak English, they worked incessantly, and they made it without help from outside sources.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Helen Barolini (nee Mollica) has established a deservedly solid reputation as a writer who has focused on the lives of women connected to the Italy-to-The-USA avventura. The book, Umbertina centers around the life courses of three women: Umbertina, Marguerite (her granddaughter), and Tina (Marguerite's eldest child, named for her great grandmother, Umbertina). Barolini's description of the life of Umbertina chronicles a classic contadina-to-capitalist tale. Umbertina started her life in Castagna - a typical mountain town in the "instep" of the Italian boot. Barolini aptly describes the misery of life in that town during the years of the mass emigration. She paints a convincing word picture of the serf-like existence of the landless peasants. whose conditions had changed little following the unification of the peninsula under a constitutional monarchy. A series of events leads to Umbertina's marriage to Serafino Longobardi. Barolini credibly recounts the story of their journey from small landholders struggling to pay off their land in the village of Castagna to their occupation of a grand mansion, maintained by the income from a hugely successful produce and importing business established in Cato (pseudonym for Utica), New York. For those who have not read similar stories, Barolini's account can serve as a valid prototype for accounts of the ways in which thousands of participants in the Italy-to-The-USA avventura established their families' affluence. Such stories represent the foundation of the oft-repeated claim, "They came with nothing, there were illiterate, they didn't even speak English, they worked incessantly, and they made it without help from outside sources.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent service, prompt delivery, excellent conditon
as described, packaged well.
Would use again.
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