Join Angela Lanza as she experiences the tumultuous world of early 20th century Sicily and New York. Orphaned by the earthquake and powerful eruption of Mt. Etna in 1908, Angela is raised in the strict confines of an Italian convent. Through various twists of fate, she is married to a young Italian man whom she barely knows, then together with her spouse, immigrates to the U.S. This novel is an invitation to accompany the young Angela as she confronts the ephemeral nature of life on this planet and navigates the wide cultural gaps between pre-World War II Italy and the booming prosperity of dynamic young America. Author, artist, and teacher Carmela Cattuti created Between the Cracks as an homage to her great-aunt, who survived the earthquake and eruption of Mt. Etna and bravely left Sicily to start a new life in America. This is the first in a trilogy.
The Magic of the Alchemical Process and the Courage of our Vulnerability
Having just published an historical novel based on my great aunt’s experience of the 1908 earthquake in Sicily, I started to think about the alchemical process of growth open to the human race residing on this planet. In order to open ourselves to this transformation process we must have what the Italians call “coraggio,” a quality highly regarded by the culture. The word means courage, but when an Italian says it, it is more of a blessing of confidence to transcend the obstacle or confront the issue at hand. A person with great “coraggio” always triumphs regardless of the outcome. This is especially true of the writing process, particularly when we are dealing with difficult material.
In my novel, I see the main character, Angela, moving into a time line that is regenerative and healing. Many of us living at this period in history possess courage in spades, and are waking up to who we really are. Those who remain steeped in the constructs of religion and politics may take a few more life times to develop enough courage to extricate themselves from these paradigms. But for those of us with enough courage (energetically developed over life times) to face the amount of imposition placed upon the human race from the media, politics, and religion, our transcendence is assured. The time line is created, all we need to do is bring it into our awareness. This is what Angela attempts to navigate. She realizes she cannot stat in Sicily; she has to traverse the unknown to a more positive life.
It took a great deal of courage for my great aunt to survive that massive disaster, then marry a man she hardly knew and immigrate to a strange country. I wrote her story and I am humbled by it. Her younger sister was never found and for the rest of her life she often wondered if she was still alive. Many years later she and her husband returned to Messina to see if they could locate her, but there was no evidence that she had survived the earthquake. I think her story is a tribute to the indomitable human spirit.
From what I can remember of our conversations, she was very much in touch with her inner knowing from the time she was quite young. When she was a child both her parents died and she and her brother were sent to live with grandparents while her young sister was sent to live with an aunt, so from early on she had confronted loss and abandonment. After the earthquake she was even more alone, surviving on the streets until the Americans came and took children aboard ships. She ended up in a convent and was raised by the Sisters of Charity.
Her early life was an intense alchemical experience that strengthened who she was and what she came to the planet to accomplish. A less developed soul without an abundance of courage would have perished or given up. Her relationship with the Catholic Church was superficial and the energy of her worship was focused on the Blessed Mother. Even though she was raised in a strict religious atmosphere where her behavior was closely monitored, the construct of religion was not a force behind her spiritual beliefs. She was vulnerable to criticism for her “Mary Worship” by the Italian Community, but she persisted in having an altar devoted to Mary in her home regardless. As writers, is it imperative that we develop the same stamina and we continue to explore unknown territory, not only for our personal development but for our readers’.
Angela was bombarded with family obligations and tragedy, but she persisted in her spiritual development and serving others, even when they were less than kind. Her influence on my life has been profound and when I think I am having a difficult time filling a page, I refer to her life and it puts everything into perspective.
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About the Author
Carmela Cattuti is a writer, visual artist, and teacher. She is the author of Between the Cracks, a novel based on her great aunt's inspirational journey from Sicily to the U.S. Carmela is a graduate of Boston College's masters program in literature. Join her Facebook community, find her on her Twitter, visit Carmela's blog and hear her talk at Blogtalk Radio.