On Persephone’s Island: A Sicilian Journal (Vintage Departures)

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Product: On Persephone’s Island: A Sicilian Journal (Vintage Departures)
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On Persephone’s Island: A Sicilian Journal (Vintage Departures) [Kindle Edition]

Mary Taylor Simeti (Author)

  • File Size: 721 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679764143
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Departures Ed edition (December 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4WKME

An American woman residing in Sicily for the past twenty years portrays the Sicilian landscape and customs–both rural and urban–from the perspectives of both a “foreigner” and a resident.

Mary Taylor Simeti arrived in Sicily in 1962 to do volunteer work. Freshly graduated from Radcliffe College after growing up in a distinguished and privileged New York City family, the last thing she expected was to fall in love and marry a Sicilian. On Persephone’s Island: A Sicilian Journal is the ambivalent love story of an intelligent, complex, and self-reflective woman. The book recounts the events of 1983, the year Simeti turned 42. Her narrative alternates between Palermo, where her children attend school and her husband Toninno is a professor of agricultural economy, and Bosco, in eastern Sicily, where she shoulders demanding responsibilities on the working farm that has belonged to her husband’s family for three generations.

Simeti feels the isolation of being an expatriate and outsider, although she claims to welcome this perspective when faced with frustration and disgust at the pervading political corruption and corrosive effects of the Mafia on everyday life. Despite her natural diffidence, she shares personal insights that makeOn Persephone’s Island as compelling as her prose. Simeti intersperses rich helpings of Sicilian history and culture with mundane events and insight into what motivates the peasants essential to the survival of the family farm. And she makes pessimistic observations about the complexity of changing times in a society where the persistent reliance on feudal relationships and agriculture is finally crumbling.

An academic manqué, Simeti researches and ruminates on the mythological underpinnings of the many holidays and festivals that punctuate the rhythm of Sicilian life. She focuses particularly on the Greek goddesses Persephone and Demeter, who held Sicily under their protection. She eventually discovers a correlation between her own situation and the story of Persephone, who alternately inhabited the worlds of light and darkness.