“What is life if you do not have the courage to fight.” – Giuseppe “Pippo” Fava.
A Review of Signora Bella’s Grand Tour by Lesley Synge.
Even though this poetry book was not written with me in mind, I have no inner child to embrace nor do I have an inner Signora Bella. I like it anyway. It is the kind of book that would make sense of travel photos of the places that inspired Lesley Synge to write these poems.
I knew of the author and her two sisters 40 years ago; from time to time we were in the Brisbane watchhouse together under the repressive regime in Queensland then. It is only recently that I have made the acquaintance of Lesley Synge again.
This was because Lesley invited me to speak at a book launch of ‘Wharfie‘ a book about a communist, Wal Stubbings, a biography Lesley had edited.
I have never been to the places that are the subject of these delightful poems – Sicilia, Genoa, the Dolomites and more. Yet I am no stranger to literary references contained therein … references that stretch from Rushdie to Shakespeare.
The closest I have come to the subject matter is in Inspector Montalbano, detective novels of Andrea Camilleri. In those books Ms Camilleri describes the life of a Sicilian policeman who chases down the mafia.
And of course my next door neighbour, Lauretta Bufadeci, is my mentor on all things Sicilian, sadly now passed.
Lesley is right about how older women being often ignored, at least in our culture. Here is Lesley with Marie Crisp who sold the Tribune for the Communist party for years. But this may be confined to Anglo culture. As Lauretta knew, nona holds a very significant place for Sicilians and Italians.
The author chose the famous Giuseppe Fava for her inspiration. Like the fictional Montalbano, the real life Fava took on the mafia.
I include one of the poems from the book.
Good stuff and congratulations to Lesley!
The book is published by Zing and is a modest $15. I look forward to the picture version.
This excellent book is available at the State Library of Queensland Bookshop.