Saturday, 24 April 2021

The Woman in Red

Finished April 22
The Woman in Red by Diana Giovinazzo

This is a fictional tale highlighting the life of a real woman in history. Anita Garibaldi was born in 1821 as Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva, the daughter of a gaucho in the Santa Catarina area of southern Brazil. She left school very young and worked with her father, learning the skills of his trade. But he died in an accident when she was still a child, and her mother moved her and her sister to a town where they could live with her godfather. 
Giuseppe Garibaldi had left Europe in exile after fighting for freedom for the Italian people and a united Italy. He found his way to Brazil where he joined their fight for independence and the two were drawn to each other immediately upon meeting, and she began to use the name Anita. 
This novel explains the significance of her taking that form of name in an interesting way. 
She was a strong willed woman and fought in the Brazilian battles, at one point becoming separated from Giuseppe during battle, and captured by the Imperial forces, but she managed to escape despite being pregnant, and rejoin him. Soon after the two moved to Uruguay, where they led a more peaceful life for a few years, marrying and having more children. When the Argentines tried to take over Uruguay, Garibaldi formed a legion of Italian expatriates and fought once again for freedom. With Italy showing more hope of unification, the family returned to Genoa in 1848, and fought for independence from the Austrian Empire. Once again, Anita was by his side, but she died in retreat when she was pregnant and ill from malaria. 
This book expands her story to include an earlier arranged marriage for Ana, more details about the rebellions they participated in, her actions with the creation of the redshirts in Uruguay and the role she played in stirring up support there and in Italy. It also shows her personal life, her early struggles as a female who didn't fit well into traditional female roles and fought against men controlling her life, her relationships to other women, and her children.
I really enjoyed learning about this historical figure, someone who hadn't been on my radar before.


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