About the Book
Release Date : May 19, 2020
Twenty-six-year-old Lavinia is burdened by her unknown heritage—but her uncle Sal, who raised her in San Francisco, has always kept silent, refusing to reveal the devastating secret of her origin. And now, following the death of his wife, he’s left for Italy.
In the wake of her uncle’s departure, Lavinia has quit school. Now she works as a personal laundress to a diverse cast of San Francisco residents—people with stories as complicated as her own. As time progresses, through the sacred ritual of washing clothes—and with the help of a friend and her nurturing, flamenco dancing mother—Lavinia begins to recover memories of her past. Gradually, her gifts of receptivity multiply, and she communes with nature, finding messages from birds and the leaves of her garden’s fig tree. And when she recovers Raggedy, a beloved doll that accompanied her from Naples when she was four years old, she experiences a tangible connection to her own mother.
Even as Lavinia makes these discoveries, she is busy building new relationships—discovering healing dance with her lover, a barista in a North Beach coffee shop; learning to understand Time and forgiveness with an elderly client; and even getting to know her father, a man who has never been a part of her life. Poetic and poignant, The Laundress is a coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever sought to understand where they came from in order to figure out who they’re meant to become.
Praise for The Laundress
“Lavinia has never known her parents and her search for identity is bittersweet. Barbara Sapienza unfolds the tale with the same sensitivity and insight we saw in her previous novel Anchor Out. With complex characters, and a strong sense of place, Sapienza has created a world where Lavinia’s memories are recovered with as much intuition as recollection. But it’s her relationship with one of her customers that takes her far beyond the streets of San Francisco.”—Kathy Andrew, author of The Creative Zone
“Barbara Sapienza, the author, draws the reader into the life of the “Laundress”, Lavinia Lavinia. She has been abandoned in San Francisco by her guardian, her uncle Sal, who has returned to his family home in Naples; Lavinia is left without family to find her way in San Francisco. We follow her as she interacts with her clients and friends and meets the challenges of the life of a young single woman in San Francisco. Ultimately, Lavinia prevails, and in the end her future looks rosy.Barbara Sapienza has provided a blueprint for living and prevailing in the modern world of the 21st Century.”—John D Bredehoeft, PhD, member of the National Academy of Engineering
“So beautiful and loving. A bittersweet odyssey of self-discovery from Naples to North Beach.”—Steven A. Foreman, M.D., author of Breaking The Spell, Understanding Why Kids Do the Very Thing That Drives You Crazy
A talented psychotherapist and author, Sapienza introduces us to the Lavinia Lavinia, a dancing, bubblegum chewing, laundress lost and searching to understand her roots. With smart and compelling writing she weaves a rich, psychological accurate and complex tale of love, curses, loss and redemption. Lavinia will remain in your thoughts long after completing this wonderful book.”—Dr. Jessica Broitman, Psychoanalyst, Author and President of the International Control Mastery Therapy Group
This story and book is just so beautiful. It is a story of self discovery as Lavinia searches for answers on her and her family’s past. Where is she from? What happened to her mother? It is one part mystery and one part a journey. Sapienza expertly wove this story and kept you on the edge of your seat needing to find out the answers to all of Lavinia’s questions just as much as she herself needed to.
I love when I am able to become invested in a book and the story. Lavinia was such an interesting character and I really became invested in find out about herself. In a sense I was able to connect with her because my own family’s history is slightly murky. So it was a story I knew I would love from the start.
I absolutely loved the pacing of this book, the secrets and answers came out slowly but not too slow that you would lose your interest. It was definitely an edge of your seat read, but not the same edge of your seat as you get in a thriller (if that makes sense). The writing is also just so spectacularly done. It’s definitely a book that I see many people enjoying!
About the Author
Barbara Sapienza, PhD, is a retired clinical psychologist and an alumna of San Francisco State University’s creative writing master’s program. She writes and paints, nourished by her spiritual practices of meditation, tai chi, and dance. Her family, friends, and grandchildren are her teachers. Her first novel, Anchor Out (She Writes Press, 2017) received an IPPY bronze medal for Best Regional Fiction, West Coast. Sapienza lives in Sausalito, CA, with her husband.
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