The Good Left Undone By Andriana Trigani

Picked by: 
Jane

The story begins and ends in Viareggio, Italy with the Cabrelli Family and its stone setting business. It spans four generations and several countries during World War II up to the present time. Matelda, the matriarch of the family, has health issues and knows her time is limited. She is determined to share the long-held secrets of her family, especially about her mother Domenica Cabrelli with her daughter and granddaughter.

She begins her story from what she knows of her mother’s childhood. Domenica was a bright and curious girl that was both admired and disliked because of her intelligence and leadership, qualities not tolerated in girls of her generation. Her best friend was a boy that was treated as an outcast because he did not have a father. When her friend Silvio is injured by a rock from trouble-making boys, she assists the doctor that cares for him.  She then decides what her life’s career will be.  When she grows up and becomes a nurse, she is hired by the same doctor that helped her friend, Silivio. As a nurse, she tries to help a young mother who comes to her for family planning counselling. However this goes against the Catholic Church’s teachings and she is banished by the local priest and the doctor sends her to hospital/convent in Scotland as part of a punishment for going against the Catholic Church. It is there they she meets and marries the Naval Captain John McVicars that is Matelda’s father.

As war takes over and madness spreads, Italians, Jews and Germans are deported from Scotland on shipping vessels including the doomed Arandora Star, a cruise liner that was converted to carry hundreds of prisoners. Captain McVicars is assigned to assist the captain of the ship never to return.

Life-long friends and family are uprooted and separated. Finally, when the war is over, Domenica returns to her beloved Viareggio with her daughter, Matelda. When her old friend Silvio also returns to Viareggio, a new chapter of life begins for Domenica and Matelda.

This is a beautiful story of family and the importance of passing on family history from one generation to another.