We The Italians | Italian books: Follow Your Heart

Italian books: Follow Your Heart

Italian books: Follow Your Heart

  • WTI Magazine #176 Jun 23, 2024
  • 103

Follow your heart (Va' dove ti porta il cuore) is a book written by Susanna Tamaro and published in 1994. Susanna Tamaro was born in 1957 and studied cinematography in Rome before becoming a writer. Her debut book was dedicated to the world of childhood and adolescence. As a matter of fact, she has also written several books for young people and for one of them she won a Strega award in 2016.

“Follow your heart tells a strong and very human story in the form of a long letter - punctuated like a diary - from an elderly woman to her distant young granddaughter. It is a love letter and at the same time a quiet but passionate open-hearted confession of an entire life that in the act of writing finally finds the meaning of its own experience and identity.”

Defined as a bittersweet and heartwarming novel about life, love and what we carry inside, the book won the Premio Donna Citta di Roma and sold more than 800,000 copies in Italy before becoming an international bestseller and reaching the literary landscape in the United States.

The story begins in late autumn 1992 in Italy and the protagonist is an elderly woman named Olga. She is sick and aware that she doesn’t have much time left, therefore she decides to write a letter to her granddaughter, Marta, who is travelling in America, and pour all her feelings and her life experiences into it.

Olga is reaching the end of her life and it is time for her to look back and tell her story. Recounting her youth, her unhappy marriage and the premature death of her daughter, she finds herself – through the act of writing – rediscovering her own identity and the meaning of her life. With a calm but intense and moving way of writing, Olga’s story becomes a flow of consciousness and Tamaro’s book a work of strong feelings and revelations. “A book more relevant than ever, confronting us with our feelings and the importance of relationships.”

Olga fills her writing with the events and all her emotions related to them that characterized her life. In doing so, she can overcome her vulnerabilities, her toughness, what she had to endure and the lies she told to protect those she loved. She is saying goodbye and passing on her truth, her life and her legacy.

Olga writes her letter at home with her dog Buck. She doesn’t know precisely how much she has left. This is her diary, her confession; with her own words, “since I was born, I have told only one lie. With it I have destroyed three lives”.

Turning the pages, readers discover that Olga hasn’t had an easy life; in fact, her parents were tough and distant, she married a man who couldn’t show his affections, she lived through war, and she had a conflicted relationship with her daughter Ilaria.

But she also experienced happiness, passion, a great secret love and the close relationship with her granddaughter. As a matter of fact, Olga was a mother to her, and she is now trying to reconnect with her.

Olga writes “showing how the power of the simplest words and gestures can break the chains with which fate imprisons us across generations and set us free.”