Sweet 16

The school year is now over in Italy: the Quadri (results) have been pinned up outside the middle and high schools. Congratulations and tears have been shed and the Maturità will soon be over too. The children have slogged it out all year with few high days and holidays and are now rewarded with three long months of carefree days.

My daughter is sweet 16 and loves reading. Summer is her moment for uninterrupted literary immersion without the call of homework. The first days of the holidays were spent discussing the books. Sweet 16 is that amazing age on the cusp of womanhood to read the great romances without being tainted by too much of life's brutal reality. It brings to me a sense of excitement as she reads the great classics for the first time and we talk about them. First I realise how many of the details I have forgotten and secondly, yes there is slight envy as she plunges herself into these wonderful sagas of life for the first time.

Last year Anna Karenina was the book. As she went through the pages I too relived the struggle of Anna so this year obviously it must be War and Peace.
War and Peace she has decided is her book for travelling because sweet 16 is also the age you can travel alone like an adult. So great adventure awaits her as she takes her first international steps alone, luckily to land in the arms of her much loved Godmother. The two will be holiday and literally companions and as she starts her travels in Somerset I had to introduce her to Tess of the D’Ubervilles for her June reading. As I pick up the book strewn on the garden table I recall the beauty of Hardy language. Bella can’t believe Tess’s ability for passive suffering unlike our more reactive Anna.

I find It interesting to observe that this bilingual being loves the English classics as much as me. Her early teens were spent under the spell of Jane Austin. I am also amazed sometime by the choice of English Books given by the Italian school,  Kim and Ivanhoe don't seem the most obvious introduction to English literature. Kim seems very far removed from Italian culture and strangely old fashioned.  Ivanhoe too seems a strange choice but I was firmly put in my place by being told that its structure was used by Manzoni as a model for his historical novel, I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), which every Italian child has to read at school.
This year her summer text for school is Chanson de Roland, a French mediaeval text, and after trying 8 bookshops in Florence in 37 degrees so I have turned to the internet for a copy.
I will feel, I expect the same as I did when she went to nursery school for the day when we take her to the airport full of pride and tearful as yet another landmark is passed.

I will also be able to keep in touch with her through her new blog Korakale, which you too might like drop by on http://www.korakale.blogspot.com

Buone Vacanze e Buona Lettura


  1. Mai letto Tolstoj...letture impegnative! Ciao, Arianna

  2. lucky girl. Looks like she has found a perfect spot to read

  3. As an avid reader I loved this post and was delighted to read that your daughter loves the classics. I am so pleased you have introduced her to Thomas Hardy I hope she gets to visit Dorset on her travels.


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