By the Olive Groves: A Calabrian Childhood
Grazia Ietto Gillies
In 1939 a girl was born in the wild Aspromonte mountains of Calabria, a land haunted by history and suffused with tradition but weighed down by poverty and the 'Ndrangheta-Calabria's answer to Sicily's Mafia. As the tremors of World War II shake the heart of Calabria, so the little girl's childhood unfolds. Her life is simple, revolving around school, friendship, family. At its heart is the kitchen where the dramas and joys of family life are played out and where her mother, Giulia, creates the food around which everything revolves. In this rich and heartfelt memoir, Grazia Ietto-Gillies remembers her youth in Calabria, from childhood sickness and her eccentric extended family to the excitement of religious festivals, near-constant struggle with poverty and an incident with the feared 'Ndrangheta. Now, sixty years later, she realises that Calabria has defined everything she has ever done and that she has never really left the mountains of her childhood.