Goodbye to Italia

A timid girl. A young soldier. A love story.

Non-Fiction - Biography
257 Pages
Reviewed on 11/22/2017
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Author Biography

Hi, I’m Marisa Parker. My mamma, Maria (Iucci) Martore and papa, Eugenio Piergiovanni, have led such an amazing life that I had to write their story. The first book, GOODBYE To Italia – a timid Italian girl; a young soldier; a love story – is about their diverse experiences in Italy and Africa in WWII. I’m now writing their second book (2017) after they married and went to live in Africa. The story will be related personally from my mum’s perspective, as she recalls it.
Currently, my husband and I live in the hills behind the Gold Coast in Australia. We have two grown-up daughters who were born in Zimbabwe, Africa – where I was also born. Although it was called Rhodesia back in the day! We left Africa in 2000 and went to live in New Zealand for six years before moving to Australia which is now our home. Since moving here, I’ve undertaken study as a mature-age student whilst working full-time. It’s been a tough journey but oh, so worth it.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Goodbye to Italia by Marisa Parker is an enchanting story that takes the reader on a journey back in time and into the lives of her parents. The cover of this biography is beautiful and hints at the rich history inside the pages. I loved the fact that the author took time to talk to her parents, memorize their words, and made their love story eternal. She takes readers on a journey along with the two main characters as they come of age in two very different, yet very dangerous places that are plagued by the effects of WWII.

This is the story of Mariolina Martore and Eugenio Piergiovanni. When our story begins, Mariolina is 6 years old and Eugenio is 17 years old. While Mariolina is living with her mother and grandmother in war ravaged Torino, Italy among disease, hunger and the devastation of the war, Eugenio is fighting as a teenage soldier. He is captured and taken to a prisoner of war camp where he spends 6 years, barely surviving by living through the dry humor he creates in his diaries. Years go by and Mariolina and Eugenio meet at a more peaceful time, yet neither of them is the same. We are taken through a beautiful journey of self-discovery, love, acceptance and courage as we read about how these two find each other, their love and themselves.

Sweet, endearing, heartwarming, emotional and simply lovely, this book is too interesting to put down. The double POV makes the story interesting and ensures that the reader keeps on reading. Eugenio’s years in the POW camp and Mariolina’s journey from an innocent 6-year-old to a bold and confident young woman speaks to the reader. I simply don’t have enough words to explain the feeling this story evoked in me. So good and simply beautiful!

Jack Magnus

Goodbye to Italia is a nonfiction historical biography written by Marisa Parker. In 1940, Parker’s mother, Mariolina, was six years old and living with her mother and her nonna in Torino, Italy. Over the next few years, the war would become particularly close and personal for them, with many nights spent in fallout shelters, as bombs dropped from overhead. Parker’s father, Eugenio, had enlisted in the army the year before that, at the age of seventeen. He was tired of living with his temperamental opera singer mother and sister, and had been influenced by his mother’s admiration for Il Duce. He had papers to show he was older in order to ensure being accepted at the recruiting station, but they were more than happy to accept him as he was. Two years later, while serving in North Africa, the young Lance Corporal became a prisoner of war. It would be years before he was finally released and able to return home. When he did come home, the little child he had known had become a young woman. While the two worked quite well together in the small business he started, the thirteen-year age gap seemed just too big to overcome. Eventually, Lucci, as he affectionately renamed her, and Eugenio were married and returned to South Africa which had become his home.

Marisa Parker’s nonfiction historical biography, Goodbye to Italia, is a compelling and invaluable look at the impact of the Second World War on the citizens of Torino, Italy as well as a moving first-hand account of a prisoner of war’s experiences for almost a full decade of his life. I’ve long been interested in first-hand accounts of the war and found so much in this book that I hadn’t known about before. The reader is also privileged to experience the cultural life of Italy in the nineteen-forties, especially as it relates to those who lived with the bombings, food shortages and other privations of war. Parker’s stories are beautifully told with those of Mariolina and Eugenio interleafing and paralleling each other’s experiences so well. The photographs that Parker includes in this book are marvelous! I loved being able to see her parents, especially Mariolina, as she grew up. The family pictures really help the reader escape the present and feel a part of her family’s history. Goodbye to Italia is an outstanding historical biography, and it’s most highly recommended.

Gisela Dixon

Goodbye to Italia by Marisa Parker is a true story, the biography of Marisa’s parents and their family life. Goodbye to Italia opens with a brief introduction by Marisa to her parents and her upbringing. The book is then divided into two broad sections. The first section details Mariolina’s life from her childhood to her growing up, along with Eugenio’s youth and adulthood. World War II, conditions in Italy, and the ensuing world state form the background of the novel as both Mariolina and Engenio live through that period, with Eugenio even serving as a prisoner of war during this time for some years. The latter part of the book deals with how they meet, their relationship, and the way in which their lives intertwine. There are plenty of photographs throughout the book that complement the chapters well.

Goodbye to Italia by Marisa Parker is an intriguing and interesting read. It provides a glimpse into Italian culture and the experiences of Italians, specifically during World War II. Because the “voice” in the novel changes actively between these two people, the reader is able to view and understand the war and its aftermath from two different and, in some ways, opposite points of view. Marisa’s writing style is crisp and flows steadily as she delves into her own memories for putting this story on paper. I also enjoyed reading and understanding more about the life and times of the 1940s and 1950s. All in all, this is an interesting biography.

Deborah Lloyd

Author Marisa Parker tells the story of her Italian mother and father in the nonfictional work, Goodbye to Italia. Her mother, Mariolina Martore, was only six years old in 1940, when World War II arrived on her doorstep in Torino, Italy. Eugenio Piergiovanni, neighbor and family friend, had joined the military at age 17 the previous year, shortly after Mussolini joined forces with Hitler. The story begins with bomb raids in the town. Mariolina, who lived with her Mamma and Nonna, her grandmother, found shelter then and many other times over the next years. The three struggled to survive the war years, when food was scarce, bomb raids were frequent, and many neighbors died, or disappeared.

Eugenio was sent to fight in North Africa in 1941, and unfortunately was captured and sent to a POW camp. He too learned to be a survivor. His resourcefulness in learning to speak both English and French made him a valued interpreter for the camp management. He also developed relationships with the British guards during his almost seven-year imprisonment. Both Mariolina and Eugenio suffered life-threatening illnesses. After the war, Eugenio returned home, and the ensuing relationship between the two is endearing.

While this book describes the horrors of war, on the battlefield and the home front, it is also a celebration of the strength of the human spirit. The author is a wonderful storyteller as she alternates each chapter, between the little girl dealing with the terrible effects of war, and the strong soldier persevering through horrible conditions. In this heartwarming book, Goodbye to Italia, Marisa Parker shares an unforgettable and encouraging story, imbued with hope and joy.

Arya Fomonyuy

Goodbye to Italia by Marisa Parker is a beautiful biography, a love story that follows the life of a couple, set against the backdrop of World War II. Mariolina Martore is a young girl who is timid, but within whose breast beats a heart that yearns for adventure and love. Living with her mother and grandmother, she’s witnessed and survived the bombings. She has known the extreme conditions that result from war — disease, the bitter cold, and hunger. On the contrary, Eugenio Piergiovanni, thirteen years older than Mariolina, has been at the war front and captured; he’s come of age during the six years in African prisoner-of-war (POW) camps. In this spellbinding biography, the reader is irresistibly pulled into their lives and follows them on an adventure of love and passion, a life that is rich with its unique lessons.

The story is told in a light, friendly tone, with alternating points of view. The reader follows the two perspectives, listening to the compelling voices of the key characters as they share stories about their exciting coming of age. Suspenseful and filled with drama and humor, Goodbye to Italia is a delightful romance, a story that entertains readers greatly. The use of the diaries is brilliant and Marisa Parker has a great gift for social and cultural commentaries, giving readers powerful glimpses of what Italy looked like at the outbreak of WWII. I enjoyed the friendly tone and the excellent prose, the historical elements neatly incorporated into the narrative. There is much in this story to make the reader smile and laugh. Mariolina and Piergiovanni are terrific characters that readers will enjoy.