An historical novel, set in Northern Italy at the turn of the last century, relates the adventures of an intelligent and vivacious peasant girl, Zaira, whose lust for life and keen desire for self-improvement launch her on a journey into the twentieth-century.
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Italy is in a state of flux politically, with those who want their country to work towards being a major world power and those who want social changes first. Clearly the majority of Italian people live with low incomes, many out of work and many within the countryside barely being able to exist on the once profitable farms and vineyards. During this time, a beautiful young single girl by the name if Zaira, dreams of having her own life and following her dreams just like the women she reads about in her novels. After all, women are rising in their position, freedom of thought and speech in many countries and Zaira wants her thoughts and ideas to be important and accepted, too. Her dad is proud that she has had more education than most girls and can read, but he does not approve of these novels because they make his daughter restless for the things that she cannot have. Zaira must live at home to take care of her father and brothers but she is determined to leave her isolated little village and make something more of herself. When her father dies, Zaira decides to move to Milan and find work, hopefully as a nanny, with her main goal to train as a teacher. Milan proves to be a very difficult place to live and her lack of success sends her off in another direction. It isn’t long before she meets the handsome, though arrogant, Leonardo. He is a wealthy playboy married to a shy and retiring young woman named Livietta. Zaira becomes a companion to Livietta and her life changes in a myriad of ways. Patricia Borlenghi has written a novel about a young woman trying to break out of the mold that culture and history has formed for her. Her story is intertwined with richly detailed glimpses of history, culture, food and language. As you follow this well-developed character through her adventures and sorrows, you will feel one with her character and find that there is perhaps a little of Zaira in all of us. Reviewer: Elaine Fuhr Allbooks Reviews Int.