From Goddess Pages Summer 2013 See Review in the online Journal here
“The Strega and the Dreamer”, by Theresa C. Dintino
Reviewed by Geraldine Charles
In this novel, which is based on a true story (that of the author’s great-grandparents) the main characters Eva and Marcello arrive in the USA from Italy in the late 19th century, and the story follows their separate narratives as they struggle with the early years of migration; Marcello goes first, hoping to send for Eva soon, but in fact the couple are forced to be apart for six years. Interwoven with this is a history of the Stregas, of childbirth and healing in both Italy and the USA – and in the latter the practice of midwifery is increasingly under attack as “barbaric”.
The characters are brave, very human and likeable; I found myself really caring what happened to them and quite unable to put the book down. I knew little about the Stregas, and was sad to read of their passing but delighted that such traditions are returning. Details of the training Eva undertook were both fascinating and believable and Marcello’s story, too, is interesting as it describes well the hardships and racism suffered by Italian (and no doubt many other) immigrants of the time.
The book is so enjoyable, I think, because it is a story of real people, their struggles, loves and lives. A character-driven story always does it for me, and of course it takes a good writer to pull this off – many books with a “pagan” theme simply don’t have interesting or believable characters and I quickly find them tiresome. Not so here! The novel also makes me want to visit the part of Italy that Eva and Marcello came from, the Abruzzi – struggling with famine at the time of the events, and I read somewhere that even today, and despite its central location, the region is usually considered to belong to southern Italy.
I’m a bit jealous – I know little of my own grandparents, most of whom died when I was very young, and almost nothing of my earlier ancestors, except for the knowledge that they came from Ireland and from the north of England. How wonderful to have a story like this (and how much work must have been done to tease out the strands of it and create this really good novel!)
I notice a reviewer on amazon.com suggested the book would make a great movie or TV series and absolutely agree, I would love to see this story on the screen! Anyone with any influence in the movie business, please take note!
Geraldine Charles is the founder and editor of Goddess Pages. She is also a Priestess of the Goddess, a founder member of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple and a former Glastonbury Goddess Conference ceremonialist.
As time goes on it has been years since Marcello has been in America, Eva misses him so, and she is lonely. When Carlo, a doctor, arrives in La Tor, things start to change for Eva. They work together for a while assisting each other in different births, teaching each other their own knowledge. Carlo starts to fall in love with Eva and one night he forces himself on her leaving her feeling angry and violated. She loves and misses her Marcello so much that she is overcome with grief. Thankfully, it is not long after that, that Marcello finally sends for his family after many long years.
Although America has not turned out to be the great opportunity Marcello had thought it to be, and Italians were not well liked. When Eva and their boys arrive, they are all ecstatic to see Marcello, then they are all off to their new home in New Hampshire. Eva and her boys slowly start to learn English as Marcello has, and soon the boys get jobs of their own. Eva, although in a totally different land, tries to keep her work as a Strega. As the town Strega, not only do you assist in births but also with providing healing herbal remedies, different women’s remedies and divine knowledge and connection to the Earth and the Goddess Diana.
She helped many women throughout the town but word was going around that midwifery was being outlawed and anyone caught practicing this would be arrested. It was not proper anymore for women to have a child at home with a midwife, women now had to go to the hospital and use doctors. Although, women still came to Eva for her help in secret. Eva had dreamed that she would pass on her knowledge as a Strega one day as Giuliana had done for her, it seemed that would not be a possibility now. Eva has to stop her work as a Strega but her great wisdom and all she had learned would never leave her.
Then one day things turn around for the family and they move to a town named Keene where more Italians lived. Her oldest son then ends up getting married to a girl who tells Eva she wants to learn the wisdom of the Strega. Eva is filled with joy, she has finally found her apprentice.
This was a beautifully written and wonderful story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and I also love that in the beginning of each chapter is a different brew or remedy for women’s problems. I highly recommend this book! Thank you to Theresa Dintino for producing such a magical and inspiring story! Be sure to check out her website to purchase the book or learn more about the author at The Strega and the Dreamer.
From SageWoman Print journal Fall 2013
The Strega and The Dreamer by Theresa C. Dintino
Imprint: Createspace, 2012
A Review by Nina Ayin Reimer
Original Medical Illustrator, Our Bodies, Ourselves
Author, Artist As Healer, Stories of Transformation and Healing
When Our Bodies, Ourselves, was published in the early 1970’s, it caught fire and within a short time, jumped to the top of the New York Times bestseller’s list. Ten years later, translated in a dozen languages, it sold in many countries around the world. The book’s immediate success underscored the reality of women’s lives and our fight for justice. It was the epitome of: “an idea whose time has come.” The floodgates of the woman’s rights movement to control our own bodies and lives, opened.
Today, our daughters’ and granddaughters’ generations in America almost take their right to make reproductive choices for granted—assume that they are just there. But once more those rights are being threatened. Recent attempts to pass laws requiring vaginal probes of any women seeking an abortion, attempts to control contraception, are just the tip of an ominous iceberg.
The fight to control of our bodies, to be the healers and midwives, to have the right to vote, to lead, to make choices for ourselves is an old and ongoing struggle. It’s as old as
(and in some countries older than) the major religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the bastions of patriarchal culture and morality. Control of women’s bodies, violence against women, and disregard for the earth all have common history. Our knowledge of our history is the bulwark that protects us from complacency in the face of danger.
Luckily, there is divine feminine energy and movement afoot among women (and gentle men) everywhere. Enter historical novelist and brilliant writer, Theresa Dintino. Her newest novel and third book, The Strega and The Dreamer cuts through time and culture, peeling back hidden layers of women’s history, so we can clearly see “the man behind the curtain.” More so, we meet the brave women who open that curtain. With exquisite attention to historical detail, Ms. Dintino creates a tapestry of lineage and rites of passage for her characters. The threads of story intertwined by a master weaver at her loom. Painting a landscape with words, majestic mountains, deep forests, and secret gardens pulsate with life; vibrant, complex characters’ spread across her vast canvas, crossing continents,
The Strega and the Dreamer is a love story, so rich in texture that you can taste it, its truth so powerful you can feel its pulse. Crafted seamlessly, its style and depth draw you in, until you’re submerged in its intensity. The story awakens and stirs a deep visceral memory–a reality that you are sure you know, as well as you know your own body and your heart’s desire.
The Strega and The Dreamer is however, no ordinary love story. Its characters, women and men based on real people, cultures and events—is not just another novel about a immigrant family coming to America around the turn of the 20th Century. It is a story about all women, about life and death, about prejudice and power, about sex and sexuality, about the earth and nature. It a story of ancient goddesses, rituals, remedies, and women healers; it is a story of women’s survival then–and “a must read” for our survival, now.
Ms. Dintino has blessed us with one of those rare books you can’t put down.
It’s a story that makes you feel, makes you think, and stays with you even as you go about your day. As you near the last pages, you are eager to know what happens, as much as you don’t want it to end. When you are done, you long for more. A book whose time has come, The Strega and The Dreamer is pure magic!