Nebraska Center for Writers

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About Anna Monardo


The Courtyard of Dreams
Copyright © 2000
by Anna Monardo
How to Buy

Mary and Ross were students spending their junior year abroad in Rome when their daughter, Natassia, was conceived on a dare: "Do it without birth control" another couple challenged. "We'll do it if you do it." The young students' unmarried, self-centered, and overwhelmed, abdicated responsibility to Ross's parents, who raised the girl in their intellectually stimulating Manhattan home. Completing the circle of loving but less-than-perfect guardians of Natassia's well-being were her godparents Nora and Christopher, a childless, seemingly happily married couple.
Despite the absence of her mother, a world-class modern dancer, and her father, a physician, Natassia thrives. When she is fifteen, however, a mysterious romance she's been engaged in ends, and Natassia suffers a collapse that forces the adults to face their deepest darkness. Mary, a Korean War baby, must provide the unconditional love she never received. Ross, still in love with Mary after ten years' separation, must face the consequences of his obsessions. And Nora and Christopher, burdened by a decades-old secret, must use desperate measures to save Natassia, and their marriage. — from the publisher

A passionate novel about a dancer and her daughter as they rediscover the nature of grace. Anna Monardo writes beautifully and vividly about the fusion of love and sorrow, about the mystery of redemption. — Ursula Hegi

The Courtyard of Dreams is an enchanting, lyrical love story. From the twig of oregano in a baby's pierced ear to the Feast of San Francesco, this is a wise and delightful book. — Patty Dann, author of Mermaids

Monardo's sentences are as lyrical as those of her debut, The Courtyard of Dreams. — Publishers Weekly

A first novel of great charm that attempts to penetrate the unique genius of the Italian family, both in Italy and in its American version....Monardo writes with an easy confidentiality, and her affectionate appraisal of a world of kin, shrewd but without bitterness, might remind one of an early Mary Gordon scan of her Irish/American enclave. An alluring tribute to love — of first love, of family, of Italy. — Kirkus Reviews

Giulia, the heroine of Anna Monardo's earnest first novel, The Courtyard of Dreams, is a child of Italian immigrants who wants to be all-American — to date American boys, go to American parties and, above all, attend college in New York City, where she hopes to escape the strictures of her upbringing in suburban Ohio. But when she spends a summer with relatives in Italy, all of Giulia's prejudices about her heritage are upended, especially when she falls in love with the enigmatic Luca. — New York Times

Graceful. ... A big, completely absorbing, complex novel peopled by fascinating characters. — Booklist

Falling in Love with Natassia
Copyright © 2006
by Anna Monardo
Doubleday How to Buy

This culturally rich, poignant first novel tells the story of Giulia Di Cuore, a first-generation Italian-American woman struggling with the old-world values of her father, a psychiatrist, as she discovers her place in the world as a daughter, as a woman, and as an American.
Before seventeen-year-old Giulia spends the summer in Italy with her father's brothers and their famiies, there is little doubt in her mind who she is. She is American: she wants to date, listen to the Beatles, and go to college in New York City. But since the death of Giulia's mother, the mission of her stubborn and exacting Italian-born father has been to protect her from America: American ways, American boys, American freedom. Most important, he wants Giulia to meet her family in Italy in the hopes of finding common ground between his world and hers and improving their increasingly troubled relationship.
Although Giulia agrees to go ahread, she has no intention of enjoying herself, let alone falling in love — with her Italian family, with Italy itself, and, least of all, with a green-eyed handsome Italian named Luca. Torn between her American values and her Italian heritage, between her father and Luca, Giulia is forced to come to a new understanding of herself and her place in the world. — from the jacket

A novel of great beauty and perception. — Pat Conroy

An important novel which examines the metaphor of ocean crossings. — Teresa Picarazzi, University of Arizona

A passionate novel about a dancer and her daughter as they rediscover the nature of grace — within their bodies and their souls. Anna Monardo writes beautifully and vividly about the fusion of love and sorrow, about the mystery of redemption. — Ursula Hegi, author of Stones from the River

Monardo has put together one of the most insightful, complex and deeply human stories you'll read this year. — Lincoln Journal Star

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