In a remote village in Post-World War II Italy, Liliana is the best baker in town and life is looking up until the love her life, Raffaele, leaves seeking economic opportunity elsewhere. She promises to wait for him so she can finally leave the stone walls and stifling town of Gildone. After years of waiting and not hearing from him, Liliana marries Domenico, a strong and accomplished soldier. After the couple experience a distancing, both physically and emotionally, Liliana discovers she is pregnant. She is forced to decide what to do: should she stay in her little town, or should she run off and forge a new path? With All My Love, I Wait, follows three generations of women as their lives are forged, nurtured, and shattered.
Targeted Age Group:: 16-100
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This novel is based on a true story. Something like what happened to Liliana happened to my dear aunt in Italy, and I just knew it had to be written (and fictionalized, of course) into a novel.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The protagonist is loosely based on an aunt of mine in Italy. The other characters are fiction. My aunt is not a baker, like the protagonist, but I love writing about food, and I wanted to weave the tragedy and romance of her love story with my true love, food.
The letter had been sent.
Raffaele wrote the letter not knowing that the preparations for Liliana’s wedding had been made. It traveled from Venezuela crossing the Atlantic, then the Mediterranean. It looked just like any other letter; there was nothing extraordinary about the sheer papered envelope that boasted a blue, red, and white striped border. It may have traveled with haste had the post office been aware of its urgency. Had Raffaele known that Liliana would not be retrieving the letter from the mailbox herself, he may have sent it sooner. And so, this letter in a first-class envelope that had to travel far traveled slowly, stopping first in Miami resting in a hot, un-air-conditioned post office for months. An office with condensation on the walls, and palmetto bugs that crawled in and out of the office unnoticed. The Miami post office waited for more letters needing to travel to Europe before processing his. Raffaele’s letter sat and sat, nestled alongside other letters for months in a rather large box labeled “overseas.” When the post office manager in Miami decided there were enough letters to warrant a trip abroad, the letter was sent. It then landed in France where it was processed quickly. Later, it arrived in Rome where the Italian post office workers, notorious for their laziness, ignored its existence. It took an overly ambitious worker, who was later fired, to process the letter where it was sent to Campobasso, the capital of the Molise region in Italy. Then on the day of Liliana’s wedding, the letter arrived at her parents’ house as she prepared to marry Domenico.
The postman rode by bicycle up the roads that wound around the mountain’s sides. The road ending in Gildone required the postman to pedal hard and fast as the wind this time of year pushed against him trying to prevent his arrival. He would later appreciate this wind on his way down the road. The postman parked his bicycle in the center of town and began delivering the mail on foot. The town was quiet as they prepared to go to the church to watch Liliana finally wed. The postman started on via San Giovanni and ended on Liliana’s street via Farinacci, named for her great-great-great-grandfather who had at one time owned the only bakery in Gildone. There was now a second bakery two blocks from the Farinacci bakery that competed with her family’s. The new bakery had created a great divide in the town, giving the people, especially the women, something more to prattle about. As the postman stopped in front of the Farinacci home he smiled, seeing the flowers that were delicately placed around the door. He knocked, and as he did so, Liliana’s mother, Amara, answered. She was not known for her amiable attitude, and as she opened the door, she smiled as if she had a lemon in her mouth, grabbed the letter, and closed the door.
She took the letter and hid it in the apron that protected her from the antipasto she was preparing. The guests would be arriving soon, maybe too soon, to congratulate her on Liliana’s wedding, then, as a group, they would march towards the church. She stood in the kitchen staring at the prosciutto e melone, bruschetta, pizza laced with homemade olive oil, fresh basil, tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella. Worried there was not nearly enough food, she took out some figs whose purple color complimented the sunflower arrangements on the table. Other fruits, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, and cherries were arranged on the table next to the cannolis, sfogliatelle, napoleons, ricotta pie, and other baked goods Liliana had brought home from the bakery. Amara had warned her daughter about bringing so many cream-filled pastries, but Liliana ignored her mother. She rarely disobeyed her or ignored her advice. Amara didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of the village because of her daughter’s decision to rebel — a behavior she expected out of Angela. Liliana knew better than to serve food like the sfogliatelle, whose cream would soften the crisp outer shell. Amara surveyed the table. Satisfied, she reached into her apron and took out the letter intended for Liliana.
30 March 1953
My Dearest Liliana,
It has been three years since I last saw you covered in flour at the bakery. Do you remember what we discussed the last day I saw you and we stood with the counter between us? I think every day about how I asked you to join me in Venezuela when I was established. Liliana, I have been working making shoes here in Valencia so we can be together. I wake up every morning, look out at the ocean that separates us, and think about how I need you here. Liliana, I have money now and am successful, so different from when I lived in Italy. I can finally look past all those years my family suffered because of poverty and war.
People tell me to find a young woman here, then I will be truly happy and settled, but I have already found my woman. Come here and be my wife. We can live full lives here. Valencia is nothing like Gildone, hidden in the mountains away from the city and water. In Valencia, you can be free, not trapped by the stone, our families, and the people.
Liliana, here we can visit the ocean every day.
Please, be my wife.
You could have your own bakery and together we could give the Italians here a little bit of home. Giovanni San Michele, you know him from church, tells me how much he misses going to the Farinacci Bakery to get sfogliatelle. Just the other day he was telling me how he’s never had a millefoglie as good as the ones he had at the Farinacci bakery. I instead miss your sofgliatelle. I also miss seeing you take a bite and getting sugar all over your face.
I picture your hair pulled up in the bakery and your dirty apron. Liliana, I miss seeing you wipe your face and accidentally wiping flour on your forehead. I have been waiting for you, Liliana. I have waited for over two years, and I need you to be with me.
Liliana, every day I think about how you told me you’d wait for me while I got settled in Venezuela. I think only of you.
It has been difficult to correspond with you, especially since I am not sure if my letters are arriving. I have sent many letters since I arrived and have received no response; still, I wait. Liliana, I need you here. I will wait impatiently for you to arrive. Enclosed is money for your trip. Until then, I love you.
With all my love, I wait,
Amara stood in the kitchen reading the letter. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at Raffaele’s scribbles. Of course, this would arrive today, of all days. She took a deep breath, softening the wrinkles on her face only to have them return as she frowned. Amara put her hands on the kitchen table and bowed her head down. She filled her lungs with air and rolled her eyes back. She heard her daughter coming down the stairs and pocketed the letter, choosing to deal with its disposal later. Liliana did not need to know of its existence. Its obvious signs of neglect by the postal workers in Miami and Rome were a sign. Raffaele was of no importance anymore to the Farinacci family.
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