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Umbertina - A Novel - cover

Umbertina - A Novel

Helen Barolini

Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY

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Summary

The “panoramic, descriptive, and solidly crafted” historical novel of immigration, womanhood, and the feminist ideals of self-reliance and self-confidence (Publishers Weekly).   This sweeping, multi-generational novel begins in southern Italy’s Calabria region in the late 1800s, as Umbertina—the wife of a simple farmer—persuades her husband to emigrate to the United States to pursue its promise of hope and freedom for their three children.   Through years of struggle on New York City’s Lower East Side and then in a growing upstate New York town, it is Umbertina’s determination, ingenuity, and business sense that propel the family into financial success and security—leaving her daughters and granddaughters free to sort out their identities both as Italian Americans and as women.   “Through a dazzling interplay of American and Italian characters in both countries, Helen Barolini delineates the major concerns of all thinking American ethnics.” This is no less true today, as this republication restores Umbertina to a reading public newly attuned to the complexities of cultural inheritance and identity (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

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