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4.5 out of 5 stars22
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 25 June 2001
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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on 3 June 2001
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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on 9 January 2002
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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on 25 April 2002
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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on 17 September 1998
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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on 3 June 1998
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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on 5 June 1998
I found this work haunting my dreams for days, its characters came so fully alive. Rosina Lippi is an extraordinarily poetic writer, creating whole scenes, people and relationships with just a sentence or two and evoking much more than she states. Whole lives are contained easily within one described scene, whole eras of pain and sustenance (especially the war)by a single episode. Part of Lippi's success is the sort of fusion she achieves between short story and novel, since each of the chapters can easily stand alone and be read separately from the others -- loosely connected and building a whole, but allowing some space within the great intimacy she creates with her characters. This is a terrific book -- read it!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 December 2010
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 require. It is set in farming country, among what might be thought to be an uncomplicated, sometimes dour people, but provides a compelling, marvellously absorbing reading experience. The stories are told through the women of the community, centring on one small village, Rosenau and the three main homesteads within it.

I found it easy to identify with these women from a totally other time and place. The prose effortlessly pursues the grim facts, but there is deep empathy too. The difficulties faced by one woman - Johanna - in particular are handled sympathetically when she finds a fugitive from the war hiding on her farm. Other stories include the horror of a family when two of their children are classed as imbeciles and removed in a Nazi programme. Men return from war marked by mutilation both internal and external; some women are left to fend for themselves or find themselves at the mercy of old patriarchies that make themselves felt.

Rosina Lippi lived for four years in this small community and its fictionalisation has a strong grounding in fact. From the peculiarities of their naming systems to their problems with an uppity cow (of the moo variety), and from the depth of harrowing wartime experiences to the courtships and flirtations of the community, all are beautifully delineated. It doesn't read however, like a documentary script. More accurately it is a first-class novel with a very strong grounding in fact - and very enjoyable it is too.
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on 19 June 1998
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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on 10 April 1998
The success of this marvelous book springs from the passion of the telling -- the writer's deep conviction that the lives of the people who inhabit this remote Austrian village are invested with meaning. Their stories come to us chronologically, beginning with the period of the first war and ending in the late 1970s. Their daily experiences are shown to be all at once prosaic and extraordinary. The featured players in this drama are the women who grow up and spend their lives in one small place. But the real protagonist is the village itself, as expressed in the slowly changing character of daily life as years pass and people come into the world and live and die. At the end, modern life has insinuated itself into the community somewhat, but the elements that define common experience have changed very little. The triumph is in the author's ability to render ordinary events in ways that reveal the humanity of the people she writes about. Wonderfully told, beautifully written.
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