Saturday, June 24, 2023

June Read: The Seamstress of Sardinia by Bianca Pitzorno


I came across this novel at B&N about three months ago and immediately added it to my TBR. My reason for my interest in this novel mostly lies in the fact that I have a family member who spends a lot of time on the island of Sardinia and someday I hope to visit. Photos show a stunning island that looks like something out of a fairy tale. 

Bianca Pitzorno is an Italian novelist and this is her first novel translated into English. I absolutely enjoyed this novel that was more like a "dramedy" than historical fiction. 

The novel is written in first person narrative, and looking through it, I realized the narrator's name is never mentioned! She's known as a sartina, who is a seamstress who either works at home or travels to client's homes to sew for them. They sew sheets, undergarments, trousseaus; anything that's required in a home. It is hard work and doesn't make much money, but this sartina manages to remain independent and have a small apartment. 

Let me backtrack! The story starts with this sartina as a small child, living with her grandmother, who is a well-respected sartina on the island of Sardinia. The time is somewhere around the early 20th century; there is never an exact date or year. Both are the last surviving members of a large family which was wiped out during an epidemic. They struggle to survive, but the grandmother teaches her granddaughter how to sew, so that she may lead an independent life and not be forced to become a maid. 

The novel is more of a collection of stories about important events in the sartina's life: her early years with her grandmother; her friendship with the very important (and wealthy) Signorina Ester; her friendship with La Miss, and all the little ways the sartina's life evolved. Her ongoing relationship with Guido, a handsome student, slowly unfolds throughout the last half of the novel. I never lost interest in the story and all of the characters were most definitely good and helpful or bad and vengeful. This was a life where everything was definitely black and white, with very little grey. 

There is love, friendship, tragedy, and a sense of community all throughout this novel. The sartina is not perfect and does make a few bad choices, but overall she is  wise and careful to keep her independence and not give up on her dreams. 

This was an enjoyable novel about one woman's quiet, unique life. It's not about the riches you make, but about the life you make and the people you love. 

Rating: 4/6 for a novel about a woman who learns to take care of herself and along the way is witness to some unique people and events. There are definite themes of poverty and wealth, the disparity between classes, and societal pressures to remain in your lane. 

Available in trade paperback, audio, and ebook. 

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