Picks and Pans Review: The Courtyard of Dreams
Giulia Di Cuore finds herself torn between two cultures. She has been raised in America, with its inherent freedoms and luxuries, and views this country through the wide lens of a 17-year-old, aware of the dreams beyond her door, ignorant of any dangers. It is left to her Italian-born psychiatrist father, Nicola, to pry his daughter's heart from America's tug and return it to Italian shores.
Nicola is an educated man suspicious of his adopted homeland. Like many Italians who have come seeking a better way of life, he questions the price paid for such comforts. He can only shake his head at what passes for love and deep-rooted custom in America. To protect Giulia he sends her to Italy, never imagining that as his reluctant daughter crosses the Atlantic she will fall in love with a young Italian man and stray even further from her father's grasp.
Reminiscent in parts of Mario Puzo's pre-Godfather work The Fortunate Pilgrim, this novel contrasts the immigrant's quest for the American dream with the fear of achieving it. Monardo's writing is simple yet elegant, her story told through hearty anecdotes, as a colorful brigade of relatives parades in and out of the narrative. This is a well-crafted and entertaining tale of a young girl navigating through two cultures, trying to keep her father's love without casting aside her dreams. Brava to a fine debut. (Doubleday, $21.50)