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Homestead [Paperback]

Rosina Lippi
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2001

The most moving debut novel of the year, shortlisted for the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction.

Homestead is simply one of the most beautifully written and moving books it’s been our privilege to publish in years. It is also perfectly constituted to be a word-of-mouth bestseller (and its fate in the US bears this out; from very small beginnings at an obscure press in 1998, that is what is has gone to become, picking up the prestigious PEN/Hemingway Prize on its way to regional bestsellerdom in paperback).

Its focus is on the women of a remote Alpine village, where life revolves around farming – and more particularly, around milk and cheese – in a way it has done for generations. Though the sense of place is acute in the book, equally the experiences and emotions of the women at the heart of it are timeless. This community of a few hundred souls, where everyone not only knows but is related to everyone else, is, of course, the kind of environment that is fast disappearing in Europe – reminiscent of remote sheep-farming communities in mid-Wales or the Cumbrian hills or the Scottish highlands. This self-contained, traditional world is evoked with tenderness but without sentimentality or blinkers. The real world creeps up the mountain to the village all too often – for example, carrying off its menfolk to war, and blighting the women with more work still, and less aid. The book spans more or less the entire twentieth century, and puts at the heart of each chapter a different woman. The casual brilliance of Lippi’s storytelling can be devastating; the reader passes by a seemingly innocuous sentence, only to turn back and see blood and fire everywhere in it.

Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo (5 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007105797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007105793
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 228,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The setting for this poignant novel is Rosenau, an isolated Austrian village, and the story encompasses generations of villagers and their intimate lives. The magic of the novel lies in the author's ability to make the faraway seem familiar, even when it is tragic or brutal. Structured as short stories told from the viewpoints of different members of the village, the novel follows their intertwined lives from 1909 through 1977, layering story upon story to develop the village and the characters.

Lippi's characters are nothing short of wonderful. There is, for example, Johanna, whose heart is torn between her love for Francesco--a soldier hiding in the Austrian Alps--and her sister Angelika, who hides her dependence upon Johanna behind not-so-subtle reminders of familial duty. And there is Katharina, whose impulsiveness causes her to betray her two half-brothers for a ride in a Nazi motorcar, and Stante, who proves his worth not only in the Wainwright's workshop but also by his courage withstanding the Nazis. The character portrayals are based upon Lippi's own experiences of living in Austria for four years. You will hate for these stories to end. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'The 12 linked stories of Homestead, set in the fictional village of Rosenau, get immediately under the skin and pack as much punch as 12 novels, diving into the characters' most wrenching moments…Lippi's language is as direct and elemental as the world it describes. What is extraordinary is the way it so factually evokes the wistfulness, inner corrosion, or immense tenderness of lives that are both circumscribed and rich, mundane, but over the long haul, deep in drama…You begin to feel that you yourself are one of the people of Rosenau.' The Observer

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars subtle, insightful, moving 25 Jun 2001
By A Customer
A wonderful and very surprising look at a small community high in the alps and the lives of women who live there. Their day to day existance is different from mine in everyway and at the same time they have so much in common with the women I know. Much food for thought. I read this after I read the novel that won the Orange Prize (The Idea of Perfection). I preferred this novel for its depth and breadth. It is not so accessible as the other novel but it is far more rewarding in the long run.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and unexpected suprise 3 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Having never heard or Ms Lippi I was very pleasantly suprised by her book. She weaves her characters and themes over generations and keeps you enthralled the whole way. This is a gentle story(s) told with insight into women,people and community as a whole. Once you finish the book its sheer scope in terms of the female experience leaves you slightly breathless. There are definite similarities between this book and Hannah's Daughter's by Marianne Fredriksson, although of the 2 this is the more all-encompassing. It reminded me at times of a fable and Ms Lippi certainly comes across as a gifted story-teller.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
What a wonderful book! It takes me back to my years spent in the Austrian alps in a small community. Rosina Lippi captures the beauty of the landscape, the hardship of the existence, the closeness of the people and, at the same time, she manages to convey the sense of claustrophobia that can come from living life in such an insular and isolated community.
The affair between one of the main characters and her lover, a deserter from the Italian army, is beautifully drawn.
A really original novel and as far removed from chic-lit as it is possible to imagine. As soon as I had finished this book I wanted to start reading it again. Truly satisfying.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book stays with me, days later. 25 April 2002
By A Customer
It's like having someone softly tell you a long and interlocking tale, and all the while telling the different parts in the same calm quiet voice, without really differentiating between the tragedy and the joy. I found it completely engrossing. I did not want it to end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars new meaning to "sisterhood" 3 Jun 1998
By A Customer
A book about strong women in a region where everyone was self sufficient. However, this book gives new meaning to "sisterhood" because the story is from an era that pre-dates the feminist movement. As the years pass and the outside world infiltrates this remote village, the women are beginning to articulate their needs, fears, pleasures and strengths. Lippi makes the reader wish for the ability to truly "go home again".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Rosina Lippi's book, HOMSTEAD, is a wondeful book about the strength and endurance and beauty of generations of peasant women living on small dairy farms high in the Austrian Alps. Though this book is listed as fiction, after glancing through the table of contents with all of its names, clan charts, naming conventions, pronounciation guides, and glossary, I thought it was going to be one of those books I would have to plough through along with the women in the book. Golly, it was daunting! However, before I finished the first chapter about Anna, and the Begat Homestead, 1909, I was intriuged and was happy to be flipping back and forth between all of these guides meeting women who had personality as well as endurance . I wanted to be a part of their lives and have them be a part of mine. Lippi has done a remarkable job of bringing these women to life. She tells about the inevitable disintegration of peasant life as the world shrinks in the face of technology. By sending me back to the simple peasant life in 1909, I realize how much I miss by having all of these machines do all of my work so I can save all of that time to use these machines. I don't much want to milk cows and make my own cheese, but I would like the strength these women had to face the world. This book reminds me of John Berger's trilogy, INTO THEIR LABOURS, which chronicles the creeping death of simplicity in the rural areas of the Alps of France.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Homestead is the compelling saga of the women in a remote Austrian village in the World War II era. The women, the lives they lived, and the village came alive for me so powerfully that I found myself unable to put the book down. Rosina Lippi's characters are finely drawn and as real as a black and white photograph in the leaves of a family album. As the narrative shifts focus from one woman's story to another's, the village is revealed in all of its dimensions and our understanding of its weaknesses and strengths, loves and fears deepens. This has become my favorite book to give to woman friends (and my mom) this year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this book! 13 Jun 1998
By A Customer
It's just wonderful. Enthralling. She captures the time, the place, the women. Couldn't put it down. Brilliant writing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Homestead
This book by Rosina Lippi was lovely . To read about the lives of woman living quit isolated until the war came was fascinating and I would say to anyone go and but it.
Published 4 months ago by Maggieb
4.0 out of 5 stars Heidi for grown ups
I found this quite a challenging read as the names were so complicated. The chapters are told by or about different people and it does sort of come together but it is sort of a... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Heidi for grown ups.
Liked the synopsis for this book. I am a voracious reader so should have spotted this was set in Austria ( not the Appalacians-oops). Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mrs Pooladam
4.0 out of 5 stars "Better ice that melts than fire that goes out."
Three generations of Austrian families, running from the First World War to the 1970s, might not immediately appeal, but it proves to be a story that has everything you could... Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2010 by Eileen Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Good choice for book groups
Very well-written, describes several generations of mothers and daughters in an obscure corner of Austria in the last century. At times very sad but always interesting. Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2010 by Psych dot
5.0 out of 5 stars compassionate, deft, intricate
The women in these stories reminded me of the women I grew up with in rural Minnesota. The external details are different (and engrossing) but I still knew and understood and came... Read more
Published on 10 Jun 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy-handed
This reads less like a novel than sociology in the form of a novel, written to impress the reader with the author's knowledge of the Austrian alpine's social history.
Published on 24 May 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars I did not want it to end.
I felt that I was a part of each of the families. The older women in my family who , except for one aunt, have all passed on. Read more
Published on 14 Dec 1998
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