Courage of Innocence is a non-fictional account of author Ann Federici-Martin's saga of growing up the daughter of Italian immigrants Narciso Federici and Divina Mazzoni. Her father gathered the strength to leave his family, friends, and impoverished life behind in the hills of northern Italy to follow his dream to L'America where, it was said, "gold grew on trees like apples." But, to get there, Narciso's journey first leads him to Egypt where he worked as a stone mason on the first Aswan Dam to earn his passage across the Atlantic Ocean. His story, and soon thereafter his wife Divina's, pass through the halls of Ellis Island and from there to the frontier of northern New Mexico; land of cowboys, coal miners, cactus, and open range.
Ann's memoirs read like a western novel, set against a backdrop of empty spaces the size of which the immigrants could hardly comprehend. But the family settles into their new, rugged and unpredictable life, and indeed prospers. There were no golden apples, but there were towns and villages of coal miners and cattlemen who needed groceries, homemade "Dago Red" wine, and amusements to offer distraction from their hard lives. The Federici family provided them all. Narciso even built a two-story stone opera house in the village of Cimarron, assuming that these culture-starved Americans would jump at the chance to attend a good Italian opera if it was put before them.