If you want a different type of read, balancing against reality and fantasy, with a splash of Italy, this is the book for you!
I thank Italy Book tours for presenting this Book Tour and Giveaway, open Internationally! Be sure to enter with the Rafflecopter at the end of this posting.
Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia.
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Sophia, named after Sophia Loren, experienced a devastating tragedy which caused her inability to function or associate with others. She struggled for a very long time until she was “visited ” by people out of history. What was fantasy and what was real? Soon her life took on a new meaning.
This is a tragedy which takes a turn in a new direction. It is about a young woman who allows fantasy to intermingle with her reality to cope and allow her artistic creativity to “flow” and to experience life more fully. It is a tale of finding oneself and discovering hidden strengths and talents. What will Italy bring?
As Sophia experiences the many places and aspects of Italy, the reader can envision the journey and beauty of the country which is well described. The characters were interesting and veritable. The Book Cover and Title were well created.
This book was gifted to me but in no way affects this honest review, of which I have given.
LuAnn: Bookalicious — Melissa Muldoon, Author of Dreaming Sophia: Guest Post -Lucida Mansi – The ghost who haunts Lucca’s walls
When I am in Lucca, a city located in Tuscany west of Florence and east of Pisa, nestled at the foot of the Garfagnana Mountains, one of my favorite things to do is rent a bike and pedal around the city on top of its famous fortified walls.
Lucca’s wall—le mura—today is a playground. Originally, however, the walls served as a defense system. The city was originally founded by the Etruscans and then became a Roman colony. If you look closely you will still find a few traces of the ancient Roman walls. During the middle ages, a new wall was begun, and the walls continued to grow along with the expansion of the city. The last major fortification of the city was driven by a perceived threat of the Medici’s of Firenze and work was resumed on the walls in 1545 and finished in 1650. To consolidate the enormous mass of earth trees were planted on top of the walls. During the Napoleon era, the walls were demilitarized and in 1809 Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baiocchi built the Porta Elisa in the neoclassical style. But, it was Luisa of Bourbon, with the help of the royal architect Lorenzo Nottolini, who transformed the walls of Lucca into a delightful park and playground it is today.
The history of Lucca’s wall is fascinating, but even more interesting is that it is also said to be “haunted” by a beautiful ghost—Lucida Mansi! She was an actual noble woman who lived in Lucca in the 1600’s. During her lifetime she was a controversial figure and caused quite a stir. Her escapades seem to have followed her to her grave! At an early age she married Vincenzo Diversi, but unfortunately for him, he died within the first year of marriage. There are some who claim it was she, Lucida who had killed him.
Lucida remained a widow until the ripe age of twenty-one when she married the very wealthy but very old Gaspare di Nicolao Mansi. Apparently, Lucida was quite beautiful, loved expensive things and lavish parties, as much as she loved being surround by lovers and suitors. Some claim she sat for hours admiring herself in the mirror.
As the story goes, one day, Lucida woke up to find a small wrinkle on her face and became quite desperate at the thought of aging and losing her beauty. At that moment the devil appeared who promised her that she could remain youthful and beautiful for thirty years in exchange for her soul. It seemed like a great deal to Lucida, and she gratefully accepted the devil’s offer. Time flies when you are having fun, as did Lucida’s years of youthful splendor. True to his word, thirty years later one dark stormy night, the devil reappeared before Lucida ready to claim her soul. All of a sudden the devil’s bargain didn’t seem like such a great idea to Lucida.
Attempting to outrun the devil she jumped into her a carriage and began racing around the walls of Lucca. Unfortunately for Lucida, the horses frightened by lightning leaped from the wall ending up in a small lake where Lucida drowned. Some people claim that if you go up on the wall at midnight on the night of the full moon, you can hear Lucida’s screams and even see her face reflected on the surface of the pond which is located in Lucca’s botanical gardens.
“Dreaming Sophia” is a new novel about Italy by Melissa Muldoon. It is a fictional story about Italy and also weaves together many strands of Italian culture in a mixture of fantasy, romance, art, and history. It is also the story of a young American painter who is named after La Loren, the legendary movie actress. At the start of the novel, she is a woman blindsided by fate and must come to terms with a devastating tragedy. But, Dreaming Sophia is also a joyful story, at times even funny and whimsical. It ultimately tells how Sophia emerges from a very dark place by tapping into her creative, imaginative powers. In Italian, a person who daydreams is said to sognare ad occhi aperti—to dream with eyes open. Through dreams, Sophia meets and talks to famous Italian personalities from past eras—Michelangelo, Leonardo, Simonetta Vespucci, Lucrezia Borgia, Garibaldi and even “meets” the elusive ghost Lucida Mansi herself who continues to haunt the walls of Lucca!
Dreaming Sophia is now available on Amazon in print and e-pub versions. The e-pub book has links to art, music and film clips mentioned in the book so you can experience the book visually and aurally. You can also find Dreaming Sophia on Facebook, Pinterest and the web at DreamingSophiaBook.com where the author will be posting more stories about Florence, Italy, and art.
Melissa Muldoon writes the dual language blog StudentessaMatta.com in Italian and English. She also produces Matta Youtube videos in Italian and Podcasts and co-leads Italian Language Immersion programs in Lucca and Arezzo as well as organizes Homestays with Italian teachers improve language skills and learn more about Italian customs and culture.
Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, “matta” means “crazy” or “impassioned”. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.
Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano” and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.
Dreaming Sophia is Melissa’s first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.
As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.
Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.
Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.
Prizes: Win a copy of Dreaming Sophia (print open to USA & Can, ebook int’l) One winner will get the grand prize package that includes a copy of the book, calendar, mug and tote bag (USA & CAN only) 7 winners total
Ends Dec 24
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