Troubador Mamma Mia... That's Life!

Released: 28/02/2016

ISBN: 9781785890789

eISBN: 9781785894404

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Mamma Mia... That's Life!


A light-hearted look at life in a sleepy Italian village which slowly awakes to the twenty-first century. In 1977, Valerie Barona made the decision to join her husband in Piussogno, a small mountain village in northern Italy. An English teacher born and raised in Dorset, she told of her early years in Piussogno in That’s Amore!, (Matador, 2013) and now revisits her life as a mother and housewife in the 1980s, trying to give her two children an English upbringing thousands of miles from home. Both children, Alex and Elisa, were bilingual by the age of two and enjoyed annual wet summers in Poole while their friends visited the Adriatic coast. Valerie herself took an active part in village life, singing in the church choir and giving English lessons, not to mention shooing the occasional stray cow from the garden. She takes a light-hearted look at her attempts to recreate English cooking and her gradual adjustment to a rural way of life which no longer exists in Italy. As the book draws closer to 2015 and Valerie becomes a grandmother, she marvels at how Piussogno has changed and how quickly her children have grown up. As the title of the book says, Mamma Mia... That’s Life! Valerie’s writing is light and peppered with very English humour. It’s a book to pick up and flick through to relax, and picture an Italian village as it was over thirty years ago. It will appeal to fans of travel writing, particularly lovers of Italy.

VALERIE BARONA was born in 1955 in Poole, Dorset. She trained as a teacher and
followed her husband to Piussogno, his village in northern Italy. After having two children, she returned to teaching and is currently on the staff at a local school. She enjoys entertaining her grandchildren - and writing.

Wild Writing Life


4 out of 5 stars

This was a very easy read showing the differences between the Italian and British lifestyles.from the Eighties though to the present day.

There was great humour written into the the author's life story.

A great holiday read.

by Neil Clarke

Sometimes reading about people's true lives can seem a little voyeuristic and sometimes like a warm hug on a freezing evening - happily, Valerie's book resides in the latter term. From her marriage to Michele and her move to a mountain village in Italy to becoming a grandparent and all her life in-between such as being the only English person in the village and coming to understand how the 'word of mouth' system works in rural Italy (we call it gossip) rebooting her career and all the other lovely bits such as her culinary ability (or lack of it, which brings to mind Ria in Butterflies) and dealing with Italian in-laws gave me such a wonderful reading experience. It's a gentle story that pulls you in. My only gripe would be that time flies past so fast in the book and I would have liked more content; but, that doesn't take anything away from Valerie's fluid and enjoyable writing. I would highly recommend this book - it's a great escape over to rural Italy.

by Stephanie Tate

4 out of 5 stars

When I began to read this novel, I felt I had missed something. Like it was a book two in a series, and I forgot to read the first book. I looked up the author and discovered this is her second book. Mystery solved. I think the book would benefit from a brief introduction or preface, so you don't get the feeling you were missing something.

Once the book began, I loved it. It was a first hand account of living in Italy. It was as if I was living there myself. Reading the differences in culture and how simple tasks completely change in such a setting, fascinating.

I was a big fan of the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, but I felt the book did not give me the feeling or viewpoint of the movie.

Mamma Mia... gives you that viewpoint. I would suggest it to anyone who likes armchair traveling.

by Lori Shafer

Valerie Barona

Aged 22, Valerie left a comfortable life in Poole, Dorset, to follow her Italian fiance´ to his home in northern Italy. In 1977, Piussogno was a sleepy mountain village where nothing much happened apart from the occasional triple birth of lambs. Valerie’s arrival was cause for gossip. The decision to build a disco meant she must be rich and it was also a foregone conclusion that she was pregnant. They were wrong on both fronts. Her new life involved living with her future in-laws, learning both the language and how to drive like an Italian and then the completion of the disco coincided with a visit from the local mafia....

The language, the locals and lasagne – That’s Amore!

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