Thea Lenarduzzi

Italian immigrants come to London in the late 1800s and have a son, who eventually goes back to Italy and marries and has a daughter, who in turn moves to Manchester and has a son, who will later move back to Italy and have a daughter (our author) who is currently living in England. In this book dandelions serve as a metaphor for immigrants, Thea writes, “all immigrants have narratives in which the mundane is ripe with symbolism.”

Where, or what, is home? What has it meant, historically and personally, to be ‘Italian’ or ‘English’, or both in a culture that prefers us to choose? What does it mean to have roots? Or to have left a piece of oneself somewhere long since abandoned?

A Dandelion with a Tiger Moth, a Snail, A Beetle, and a Butterfly

Some parts of the book were unexpectedly moving, the period leading up to 1971 in particular which is, ‘best told through snatched scenes, brief flashes of something solid in a fog.’ As I read, I suddenly thought wow, perhaps that’s all life really is, a series of snatched scenes; like when me and my brother saw a rat run up a ladies leg up the high street, the infamous missing creme egg, the feeling of being warm and cosy in my bed as my dad sat on the floor reading me Harry Potter. How the only thing my own future grandchildren will know of my parents, my grandparents are the things I will tell them, a collection of ‘snatched scenes’, remembered and repeated and re repeated until they become our own mythology. What will I say when my grandchildren ask me what Covid was like or ask me about Boris Johnson? Will age have softened me, blurred my memories, will I respond, “Oh Boris Johnson he wasn’t that bad, yes we were cold that winter but everyone was back then, it wasn’t unusual.”

Thank you to Net Galley and Fitzcarraldo Editions

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