Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Villa

‘The Villa’ written by Rosanna Ley , published in 2012 by Quercus Books, London, is the story of three women who belong to three generations. A slightly chick lit type novel, so to say, but very much readable and is recommended for light reading. I used to read it at bedtime. 

The author has worked as a tutor in creative writing and has given a reading guide at the end. The writing tips given were of course interesting and useful. 

Somebody inheriting a dilapidated but gorgeous house abroad (at Sicily) is not something logical or believable, but it is a story, know? Out of the three women, I love the Grandmother Flavia, the best.  Of course her daughter Tess Angel and teen aged granddaughter Ginny are also portrayed well but Flavia is the most impressive character in the sense that she has an identity of her own. 

The only one point which I didn’t like or rather couldn’t digest about her, is her frequent visits to her ailing old love, Peter, and that too without letting her husband know of it. According to her, it was strictly her personal affair and none of her husband’s business! Later, she realized that he was very much aware of it, but simply chose not to interfere at all! It must be my Indian commonplace mind which resisted such moves, I think.

Flavia, the “self-trained observer" as the author describes, was also ”too stubborn for words" that she didn’t like revealing anything to her daughter about Sicily, her native place. Instead she started narrating the story in her notebook. But Flavia’s memoirs are fully printed  in Italics and this appeared slightly strenuous to my eyes.  

The author’s description of Sicily and the life there is quite vivid. The family feuds and the unveiling of the suspense behind the treasure is also well-drawn. Foodies can have a lot of Italian recipes of Flavia too! 

Flavia’s and later Tess’s description of Sicilian women filled my mind with pity and sympathy. I don’t know why but whenever I came across the words Italy, Italian, Sicily etc Mrs.Sonia Rajiv Gandhi’s profile used to come to mind’s frame. May be because she is the only Italian I knowJ.        

Some quotes which I like-

-......(Sicilian) women mostly dressed in black and mostly bent-with a lifetime of drudgery...
 -Personally, she didn’t understand why it was necessary to tell dozen’s of acquaintances the minutiae of one’s life...(Tess’s thoughts about facebook)....But she knew she was in a minority”Yes, in fact Tess reflected my own thoughts about fb!

-The women(of Paris) were smarter, more colourful...these women looked as if they had some life, some purpose other than home...(Flavia’s observation at a Paris railway station).

-No one prepared you for these things when you decided to have a baby. Or when-like Tess- you were propelled into motherhood without really thinking about it at all. No one warned you that your daughter would one day become an adolescent-whom you would irritate beyond belief every time you so much as opened your mouth.... But it would pass.(Tess thinking about her teenage daughter Ginny)

-At the end of the day, she(Ginny)realised, although he(Ben, her boyfriend) had been her first, she had invested the virginity thing with a significance it didn’t really have.

-It’s easy to let the opportunity go by. (Ginny’s Dad’s confession to her).And there’s a point where it seems as if it might be too late. Unless you feel you can do something...I buggered off when your mom needed me most.

- Her God has not given her what she wanted most in the world...And she wasn’t entirely sure that she even believed in him anymore. But the sense of God was a comfort to her;it seemed to give her strength.    

-She(Flavia) was too ambitious;she had never wanted the Sicilian way of womanhood-house and children.

-what love really is, caring for another human being, living with them through good and the bad,working with them, wanting to grow with them.That’s true love.Not hearts and flowers and romantic dreams.

-For every recipe there is a reason. Trade, social change, the season, the weather.Food is warmth.Food is identity.

-time when she was struggling for life, the sort of time when revelations sometimes occur.