Where, or what, is home? What has it meant, historically and personally, to be ‘Italian’ or ‘English’, or both in a culture that prefers us to choose? What does it mean to have roots? Or to have left a piece of oneself somewhere long since abandoned? InDandelions, Thea Lenarduzzi pieces together her family history through four generations’ worth of migration between Italy and England, and the stories scattered like seeds along the way. At the heart of this book is her grandmother Dirce, a former seamstress and a repository of tales that are by turns unpredictable, unreliable, significant. Through the journeys of Dirce and her relatives, from the Friuli to Sheffield and Manchester and back again, a different kind of history emerges. A family memoir rich in folk legends, food, art, politics and literature,Dandelionsheralds the arrival of an exceptional writer: bold, joyful and wise.
‘Dandelionsis a book of hauntings, intensely experienced, pierced by occasional terrors, yet irradiated throughout by passionate attachment. Generations of family ghosts wander between Italy and England, their lives summoned from a beloved grandmother’s long memories and the author’s own wide-roaming, often poetic reflections on botany, history and language. Thea Lenarduzzi has spread out before us a feast of sensuous and sensitive, nuanced and deeply appealing testimony to migration, survival, and complicated identities at a time when such thoughtfulness is rare and desperately needed.’ — Marina Warner, author ofInventory of a Life Mislaid
‘Beautifully observed and written with heart and an infectious curiosity, Thea Lenarduzzi'sDandelionsparses the complex ways in which we live out our histories and carry the past within us, through ritual, food, language and legend. Like rifling through an overflowing drawer or opening an ancient photo album, Lenarduzzi unearths glinting gems of family fiction, introducing us to a shifting cast of memorable characters whose journeys, stories and passions it's our joy to share.’ — Francesca Wade, author ofSquare Haunting
‘In this subtle and elegant family memoir, Thea Lenarduzzi gathers the ghost seeds between her present life in England and her family’s past in Italy. A meditation on roots, inheritance and homesickness,Dandelionsis also a reminder that what will survive of us is love.’ — Frances Wilson, author ofBurning Man
‘Dandelionsis spellbinding. Like the polished beads of a secular rosary, each bearing a remembrance, Lenarduzzi's ancestral memoir conjures intimate histories of migration, love, and loss across decades of passages between Italy and England. Her redoubtable grandmother Dirce will lure you in, as she unfolds fragmentary myths with a sly wit, whispering ascolta, “listen” – and you won't resist.’ — Anna Della Subin, author ofAccidental Gods
Thea Lenarduzzi is a writer, editor and broadcaster, primarily for theTimes Literary Supplement.Dandelions, winner of the 2020 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, is her first book.