Dear Gentle Readers,
Last year I was asked to join a wonderful group of inspirational authors to write a serial novel about hope entitled Through the Darkness, Stories of Hope, published by Articulate Communications, Inc.
My story in this book is A Woman Named Hope. It's the story of a little girl growing up in the beautiful southern Italian countryside with her beloved papa and her mother near the family olive groves.
A set of unforeseeable circumstances has the little girl embarking on a new life in America without her parents or any family to watch out for her, with a fistful of fake travel documents, and at the age of eleven, married to a man she does not know, and has no idea what he expects from her.
Amazon Link: Stories of Hope bit.ly/CIMHOpe
Here is an excerpt:
A Woman Named Hope
By Carol Ann Kauffman
Growing up on the outskirts of a small town of Colabina in central Italy long ago, little Maria Theresa Orvienta would walk with her father, Nick, through the olive groves while he told her stories of his youth. She loved the way the warm breeze rustled through the silvery leaves of the olive trees, gently singing songs no one else could hear but her. They sang, “Be happy” and “Life is beautiful.” They sang of the idyllic small town life, and the importance of trees and sunshine and love and family.
“You are doing well in your studies, yes?”
“Your teacher says you are the star of the class. Your English is perfect.”
“Thank you, Papa.”
“Mrs. Lynch is a very good teacher. She is from a very fine family in Cleveland, Ohio. You need to keep it up. You and me and Mama, we are going to go to America, very soon I hope.”
“I don’t want to go across the ocean to live. I like it right here.”
“Maria Theresa, there is no country like America! The whole world is open to you if you work hard and keep your nose clean. It is the country of freedom and opportunity.”
“Mama says you are having a pipe dream.”
“Sometimes your mama talks too much. She must keep our plans secret, and so should you. Look at all these beautiful olive trees. Soon we will have many olives. We will have olive oil galore. Much money will be made this year. All of my debts will finally be paid off, financial and otherwise, and we can get out of here.
“I never wanted to grow olives. I wanted to grow grapes. I wanted to have my own winery. Maybe someday, I’ll have my own vineyards in America. We’ll make wine. We’ll call it Lucky Nicky Winery. That’s a lofty dream for a boy who grew up poor. You know, when I was a child, my parents were so poor that they had to steal the fruit from the neighbors’ trees at night just to feed us children.”
“Ahh, that makes me so sad, Papa. Were you always hungry as a boy?”
“No, my little one. Either I felt good or I felt bad. I didn’t know enough to know the reason why. I ate very little as a boy. But I make up for it now,” Papa laughed.
“Yes, you do. Mama says you are getting a tummy.”
“Oh, don’t listen to her. Men are supposed to be big and broad so they can protect their families. Who’s afraid of a skinny guy waving a pitchfork? Huh? Nobody!”
Maria Theresa laughed and nodded. She looked up at her tall handsome dark-curly-haired father and thought he was the most magnificent man in the world.
“Sometimes we as a family had to run and hide in the foothills from evil marauders who wanted to do harm to our women and kill all the men.”
“Are the evil marauders still around, Papa?” Maria Theresa scanned the area for movement.
“Yes, angel, but they have different names and different faces. They don’t roam the hillsides anymore. But they’re still out there, preying on the innocent, and stealing what doesn’t belong to them. I think we will always have bad, power-hungry men in the world. You must learn to recognize evil.”
“Evil is mean and ugly,” she said with her hands on her hips, with all the confidence and conviction of an eight-year old.
“No, honey. It’s not that easy. Sometimes something very bad can look good. Sometimes evil can look very pretty to us. It does all the right things and says all the right things, but for all of the wrong reasons. You must learn to trust what your heart and your soul tell you so you can know the difference.”
Maria Theresa slipped her hand into her father’s big hand bronzed from the sun. “I’m scared, Papa.”
“Don’t be scared. I don’t tell you these things to frighten you, little one. I tell you so you’ll be armed with the truth. You need to know these things. You aren’t a baby any more.”
“No, I’m not,” she affirmed. “I will soon be nine.”
“Trust your feelings. Don’t let people take advantage of your sweet and gentle nature. Tell the truth. Lies beget lies. One lie leads to another and another. Know that, no matter what, God will not desert you. And when things get dark and scary, never give up the hope that good days will return.”
“Never give up hope. Okay, Papa. I won’t.”