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Deeply Rooted In Faith & Family

Ever dream of pulling up roots and creating a new life and home in the country where your ancestral roots began?  Ever wonder if you had the courage to re-invent yourself in a new place?  Does Italy, in particular, seem to be calling you?

Deeply Rooted is a sensitive weaving of a family chronicle with the story of an unanticipated life transition. It begins with the author preparing to leave Egypt, where she and her husband had lived until his career came abruptly to an end as a result of a corporate merger. Without a job or a home in the United States, the couple had a weighty decision to make and not much time in which to make it. Giving in to a life-long yearning, they chose to make Italy their home. Leaving everything they owned crated and stored in a warehouse in Cairo, they packed two suitcases and left on their adventure.

In Deeply Rooted, the author shares this search for a home and for her inner self. Her story is a day-to-day account of what this was like - the fear, the excitement, the doubts, the discoveries, the frustrations, the magic, the letting-go. At the same time, she reflects on one hundred years of her Italian family history and how her ancestors’ models of love, faith and strength enriched and influenced her own life and her decision to make Italy her home. Ginda’s is a story about planting a dream, believing it will take root, remembering family and honoring an ancestral home.

Deeply Rooted whispers to the soul.

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First Print Edition Published by Author: January 2001

EPub and MOBI Editions Published by NimNam Books: August 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9859718-4-7 (ePub)

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Reviews

“Deeply Rooted is a book to enter with care. From her gallery of word pictures, author and painter Ginda Ayd Simpson lays out a richly tinted panorama of the Italian countryside, its land, people, and natural bounty. There’s a thoroughly engaging surface texture. Yet within this brilliant parade of scenes, a complex chronicle of faith and family unfolds, as Simpson and her husband seek to take hold, and root in a new life.

When a corporate merger in Cairo leaves Ginda’s husband Mike jobless, the couple faces a challenge familiar to today’s global market worker. Due to downsizing, and Mike’s age, suddenly there’s no employment, no new address circled as next layover on the map. The Simpsons have no place of their own to return to.  Where to go?  Most of all: why?  Ginda and Mike set out in pursuit of answers.

After the nightmare complications of leaving Cairo, the couple’s first stop in their journey is along the southeast Italian coast, in Calabria. It’s both a reuniting with kin and return to a country that has signified much for both of them.  Almost a century ago Ginda’s Grandfather Giuseppe Corasaniti emigrated to America from his father’s lands. Across the wide Atlantic and the many decades, through visit and reunion, the American and Italian Corasaniti relations have never ceased bonding. Though time has passed since Mike’s temporary Naples residence, and Ginda’s last family contact, they still mutually celebrate the rich experiences and life values they each found during their Italian stays. They agree: it’s a common heritage and building-point.

At the Corasaniti ancestral house, great-cousins and aunts still work the land at San Leonardo, in the small town of Davoli. Here the Simpsons arrive to rifocolare - restore and re-strengthen - in every way. For this homestead and its cultivated fields represent a century-long history, where love of family and land, and enduring religious faith have triumphed. A chronicle that begins with Giuseppe’s emigration forms a chain across the passage of time, to a present day wedding ceremony for Mike and Ginda’s daughter Bridget, in the tiny old church reposing in the heart-and-home-land of San Leonardo.

To organize this event, there’s been, of course, a grand Corasaniti reunion and countryside picnic. In one typical stroke from her vibrantly organized word canvas, Simpson provides a Gargantuan vision of the groaning board and overflowing affection shared on this occasion. With the author, we savor the warm sharpness of local wine, the odors of wood oven breads, the hot pepper in local sausages. Corasaniti cousins whisper in our ear: Ci penso io/I’ll take care of that for you. And so, in San Leonardo, surrounded by a casting-director’s dream of relatives and acquaintances, enclosed in a circle of loving warmth, secure in their life-affirming religious convictions and belief in prayer, Ginda and Mike Simpson reconstruct their personal link to the ever-rich and generous Italian countryside, and the sustaining Italian values of faith and family.

Now they know what they want and need. And after long scouring of a brilliantly-described paesaggio, they find it in a stone and masonry casale nestled in the verdant Umbrian hills. Here they bring their energies, dedication, and love to Spazzavento, windbreaker hilltop home. Challenges are the order of each day. From the semi-comic dramas played out with Italian bureaucracy, to the hard physical labor involved in bringing an ancient farmhouse and its lands back to life. Their new home is alive with their energies and commitment.

As coincidental, but icing-on-the-cake climax to the Simpson’s tale, chance research in old documents reveals their casale is four centuries old, part of a much larger estate named “Villa Pace,” a name that represents the lasting peace they find as they work the land, pruning, reseeding, planting, and caring for its abundant crops.

To keep fresh in memory the hard-won fruit of faith and family, and their long journey to this goal, they decide to give their new living space, an Egyptian name, El Marsam: workcenter and artist’s studio.  In the old vineyards and fruit groves planted on their undulating terrain, within their ancient casale, the Simpsons are home.”

~ Pat E. Fogarty (Writers in Rome)


“Ginda Simpson's memoir, Deeply Rooted, records not the pangs of growth, the passions of youth,  or the high points of a successful career, but rather a process of re-evaluation and recommitment experienced in middle age.   What to do when you are no longer tied to a specific location because of your job or your family? Do you go, or do you stay?  Perhaps because Americans are less rooted in their soil than people of other cultures, or perhaps because they have essentially remained pioneers, more and more American retirees pack up and move somewhere else. Those with international experience may leave the United States altogether.

With their three daughters off on their own and Ginda's husband's career as a geologist prematurely terminated as a result of a merger in the oil industry, the Simpsons decided to settle in Italy. Deeply Rooted explains why - emphasising the importance of cultural and spiritual rather than physical or geographical rootedness.  Ginda, a painter and writer, loves the culture and life style of Italy; her husband loves working the land, growing his own olives and grapes - with dreams of making wine.  About one half of the chapters in the book chronicle, in diary form, the details of the couple's move from Cairo, where they were posted at the time of the lay-off, into a  three centuries-old restored farmhouse in Umbria. It chronicles all of the emotional and practical upheavals involved in this move, not least of which the challenges of the Egyptian and Italian customs authorities. The other chapters recount, in the form of a narrative covering some hundred years of family history, why the author in particular is so drawn to the land of her ancestors. In this way, alternating between the personal present tense of the diary and the past tense of the historical sections, the narrative makes one an integral part of the other, Ginda's own world a part of that of her extended family, the present of the past, the past of the present.

What distinguishes this book from other en vogue records of cultured Americans setting up house in similarly romantic locations like Provence or Tuscany (the best-selling books by Frances Mayes, for example) is I think the depth of the author's love for and connectedness with the people and their culture. Not only do we get luscious descriptions of landscapes and food in the Niccone Valley, of old houses in their natural setting, of the fruits of the land, of the art and architecture of Florence, and the beauty of the countryside around her ancestral hometown Davoli in Calabria, there are also deeply affectionate portraits of her relatives and stories of family ties that have remained strong across the ocean for over a hundred years, culminating in her oldest daughter's wedding at the Santa Lucia Church in Davoli, their ancestral village, in August 1998.

There is much that is very personal in this memoir, which makes it both heartwarming and eminently readable. It seduces with the culinary and aesthetic delights of Italy, shows that the horrendous hurdles put up by foreign bureaucracies can be overcome without resorting to crime or the dark arts, and is proof that it is never too late to take a new direction.   Playing it safe and staying put may be the worst thing for you.

This book is an inspiration, an injuction to follow your dreams no matter what.”

~ Maya Williamson

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© 2016 Ginda Simpson  ~ artist, writer, jewelry maker