VOICES OF THE DAUGHTERS is a forum in book format for the daughters of the Italian immigrants. At the turn of the century, in southern Italy, unmarried females weren’t allowed to travel to the next village unchaperoned. Yet, their fathers put them on ships in Naples and sent them across an ocean to marry strangers waiting for them in New York–the ethnic
equivalent of today’s Asiatic mail-order brides. But these young Italian women were to become more than brides
to men they hardly knew; they were
to become the hearts and souls of the Italian-American families across America. The daughters of these formidable Italian women are now doing more than cooking and cleaning. They are involved with professions and careers as well as being wives and mothers. They have become the modern “superwomen” with an ethnic slant.
Listen to some of their comments:
I was ashamed for a very short time to be considered the little Italian girl with the pierced ears.
I think they were afraid for us to make waves. The more we could blend in the safer it would be.
My father discouraged my interest in law. It was no
place for a woman, associating with criminals. So I became a teacher.
Carol Bonomo Ahearn
When our parents arrived from Italy, they wanted to
become Americans. I was born in America and always wanted to be an Italian.
They toured the unique, sometimes odorous canal streets of Venice, gawked in awe at the breathtaking art in Florence’s many squares and palatial museums, enjoyed the shimmering beauty of Capri, that jewel of the Gulf of Naples, and the scenic Neopolitan coastline all the way south to Sorrento and Amalfi. But for Donny, his scheduled week in isolated Montenuovo, the ancestral hilltown of his forefathers, located deep in the mountains of sparsely populated Basilicata, one of the many poor regions of southern Italy, was the real reason he had made the long flight across the Atlantic Ocean and
northern Europe with his Irish-American wife, Cathleen. Once in Montenuovo, Donny tries to immerse himself in its quaint, special ambiance. He wants to absorb its every detail with all of his senses, his mind and his heart, while recording it on film for the relatives back home to see. Donny sees beauty in this rugged, eroded landscape. He wants to be a part of it, and to be accepted by its people. But there are obstacles. And when it finally becomes apparent to him, although sooner to his wife, that in the half-empty hilltown there are those who want him dead, the trip sours for him. Why someone would want to kill him, he has no idea. Soon, survival takes priority over sightseeing. The why and the who are as unfathomable to Donny and Cathleen as the bottom of a murky, stagnant pond, and only violence will clear away the enigma for them and end the nightmare. How to overcome this threat to their lives will become paramount, and it will test their character and fortitude to the fullest.