Follow your heart by Susanna Tamaro

17 Jun


This is what appears on the book jacket:

An elderly Italian woman, driven by fear of her encroaching death, decides to write a long letter to her grand-daughter in America. In some ways it is a love letter; in others, a confession. Above all it is a bequest of advice for life from an old woman at last brave enough to acknowledge that she has too long submitted to convention and kept hidden her feelings. She relives everything that has happened to her, teaching her grand-daughter that the one important journey in life is to the centre of ourselves to that point where we can gather the courage to follow our hearts.

Before reading it, I asked around if any of my friends had read it. A few had started reading it, but stopped. That made me determined to find out what was wrong with it. As I was reading, everything was OK; I just had to cast away the feeling that the lady’s letters are the typical things that old women would like to say to their grand daughters. I concentrated instead on the events of her life and her decisions, and how these shaped her life afterwards.

In the end, I didn’t really enjoy it. I would skip over the advice parts  and read  what she really did. Which is not much: sad childhood, cold parents, uneventful marriage, housewifery and all that, her daughter and their bizarre relationship.  Instead of doing, things just happened to her. Then she tells her grand-daughter: I messed up three lives with a lie, don’t you follow in my footsteps. Pretty hollow, I think and unconvincing. Besides, it has a pessimistic tone that I don’t like.

If I were to say something positive about it, this would be it: remember the popular saying that life is not a rehearsal and that other people’s mistakes are our lessons too (at least they would tell us in primary school).

I hope that other books in my summer 2012 reading list will be better, if not,  I could change my list!

Now to The Woman in White…


2 Responses to “Follow your heart by Susanna Tamaro”

  1. Claire 'Word by Word' December 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    So interesting, I read this the year it came out and really enjoyed it, but I’m thinking maybe even then was like another era, certainly it was another century. I have to agree that today it is no longer acceptable for people to keep things hidden and then use them an excuse for their behaviour, but on the other hand, it is an interesting exercise in generating compassion. Many people acknowledge that of they knew the things they know in old age when they were young, they would have made different choices.

    • mary December 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      I wonder why the author wrote that book, I mean in the way she did it. The moral is so obvious that it gets sickening at some point. She is not an old woman who may be looking for compassion. But then, she might have drawn the story from someone she knew…

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