Swimming in the Moon: A Novel
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A new historical novel from Pamela Schoenewaldt, the USA Today bestselling author of When We Were Strangers.
Italy, 1905. Fourteen-year-old Lucia and her young mother, Teresa, are servants in a magnificent villa on the Bay of Naples, where Teresa soothes their unhappy mistress with song. But volatile tempers force them to flee, exchanging their warm, gilded cage for the cold winds off Lake Erie and Cleveland's restless immigrant quarters.
With a voice as soaring and varied as her moods, Teresa transforms herself into the Naples Nightingale on the vaudeville circuit. Clever and hardworking, Lucia blossoms in school until her mother's demons return, fracturing Lucia's dreams.
Yet Lucia is not alone in her struggle for a better life. All around her, friends and neighbors, new Americans, are demanding decent wages and working conditions. Lucia joins their battle, confronting risks and opportunities that will transform her and her world in ways she never imagined.
conveyed this to Henryk. “It’s your work,” he responded, “as vegetables are mine. All I want is a home with you.” At night Mamma let me lie close by her, matching my breath with hers. And then, so soon, her time in America was ending. Josephine and I were to leave Saturday morning for Michigan. Mamma, Paolo, and Elisabetta would take a later train east. When Henryk came to bring me to Union Depot, Mamma stomped upstairs. In the parlor crammed with suitcases and bundles, I felt like a child,
good times and struggles in America, all that we had gained and lost, all that we were together. Her arms floated, the voice arched over the crowd, stopping talk, seeming to stop even whistles and screeches and rattling wheels. A conductor stood listening. Two brakemen with grease buckets turned their heads. The last note faded and her arms floated down. A splattering, then waves of applause followed. “Encore! Encore! Sister, sing us another!” Mamma lifted her head. “Now,” she announced in
from streetcar. But live. Poor Lucia. Alone with the mamma.” When I finally left my friend’s room, Roseanne pulled me aside. “How did you make her talk? She never talks.” “I asked questions. We used English and drawings—and buttons.” Roseanne’s eyes widened as if I’d acquired astonishing powers. That night I prayed for Casimir to come and bundle Irena into a warm, familiar Polish world. I prayed for Mamma to find peace, for the count to treat the countess well, or at least return to Capri, and
Sunlight glints softly on marble busts. Nannina’s flowers bloom in painted vases. The Persian carpet we beat in the courtyard is soft as moss under my feet, richly colored as a summer garden. “Read to me now, Lucia,” the countess would say as the pain eased. Then I’d open a leather-bound volume of her favorite poet, Giacomo Leopardi. When I stumbled, she’d say, “Read slowly. Think of each word.” I would and she’d smile. These moments are wrapped in my heart forever. Yes, I was a servant and the
his colleagues would look for explanations in your mother’s childhood and,” he said delicately, “the circumstances of your conception. Yet others with a similar past might show different symptoms, or none at all.” He tapped his brow. “Here is the unknown land, the Dark Continent, the mystery to plumb in this new century.” “And my mother, sir?” “Yes, of course, the practicalities. How is she to be cared for in the next months?” “She won’t improve? Perhaps after a rest—” Dr. Ricci leaned