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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books, 22 Dec 2004
By A Customer
I first read this book when I was travelling about 8 years ago and have returned to it 3 or 4 times since then. I found it so easy to identify with Aisling, a young Irish woman, who goes to live in a small village in Umbria in Italy. She is desperate to get away from Ireland, from the death of her parents and finds Italian village life to be very soothing. The book is so well written and easy to read. You can't help identifying with Aisling as she tries to figure out who she is in a strange country. And her musings about her relationships with men are so true-to-life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Honest View of Life and Italy, 22 Nov 2011
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Most writers dealing with Italy tend to glamorize it, painting an image of a country that is all lovely pasta and icecream, sunshine and roguish Italian men. Thank Heavens then for Deirdre Madden, a wonderfully unsentimental writer who, in this short novel, brings out both Italy's beauty but also its darker sides. 'Remembering Light and Stone' is the story of Aisling, a young Irish woman who has left her native country after an unhappy childhood and reclusive adolescence to seek a new life in the South - after a period in Paris and an unhappy romance she ends up in a small Umbrian town, where she lodges in a flat owned by the proprietor of the local delicatessen, teaches English and works as a translator in a factory. Aisling is 'in psychic retreat', trying to hide from the world, but gradually her love affair with Ted, a young American teacher, persuades her that she must both open herself to new experiences and confront her past.

This is a beautifully written book. Madden is perceptive about Italian small-town society: the snobbishness of the town-dwellers about the nearby 'contadini' or farm workers, the social hierachy even in a small town, the gossip but, on the bright side, the joie de vivre of some of the people Aisling encounters (such as Franca, her landlady; at least until later in the book). She writes movingly of Aisling's periods of depression; for anyone who's suffered black moods and melancholy, reading about Aisling will convince them they're not alone. And (though we never really get to know Ted as well as Aisling, or Franca and her family) I thought that Madden wrote well about Aisling and Ted's affair, making it clear that it wasn't the great love affair that would sort everything for Aisling, but that Ted was a vital force in helping her move from one mental state to another, more realistic one. There are some great descriptions of Italy, America and Ireland, and I felt that Madden brought the story to a very moving conclusion. A wonderful achievement - what a shame this book is no longer in print.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written, Intense and Moving, 3 Jan 2013
Susie B - See all my reviews
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Deirdre Madden's main protagonist in 'Remembering Light and Stone' is a young Irish woman, Aisling, who has been living in Italy for some years, after having left her homeland, where she had an unhappy childhood and a difficult relationship with her brother, Jimmy. After time spent in Paris, where she mistakenly thought she had found true love, only to have her heart broken, Aisling leaves her Paris life behind and arrives in S.Giorgio, a small town in Umbria, where she rents an apartment above a delicatessen owned by Franca and Davide, who also live on the premises. Initially Aisling struggles to make ends meet, earning small amounts of money teaching English, but when one of her pupils, the wife of a local factory owner, suggests Aisling works for her husband as a translator, Aisling jumps at the chance to earn some much needed additional cash and is relieved when the job at the factory becomes permanent, providing her with a regular income. Aisling appears to settle down in S.Giorgio; she (initially reluctantly) responds to the friendly overtures made to her from Franca and Davide but, where possible, she keeps herself very much to herself, and she prefers it that way, for Aisling suffers from periods of black depression which she feels no one can help her with. However, when she meets Ted, a visiting American teacher of art history working in a college in Florence, she finds herself responding to him in a way that surprises her. As she grows closer to Ted and reveals to him some of her dark thoughts and imaginings, Aisling finds herself confronting issues from her past that she has previously found too painful to deal with; but also, more importantly, she comes to the belated realisation that no amount of running away will enable a person to escape their problems.

'Remembering Light and Stone' is a simple story and, in some parts, rather a sombre one; but it's a beautifully written story and it's how the Deirdre Madden tells her tale, slowly revealing details from Aisling's past and her feelings of aloneness and dislocation, that make this novel such a powerful, intense and moving read. Like Kate Hopkins reviewing here, I felt there were some very good descriptions of the real Italy, as well as of parts of America and Ireland and, through her wonderful prose, Madden demonstrates her strong feeling and empathy for landscape and situation - and all of this without cliche or over-sentimentality. Rather impressive.

4.5 stars.
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Remembering Light and Stone
Remembering Light and Stone by Deirdre Madden
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