The White Moth is an intimate and riveting portrait of life on a farm villa in Tuscany during the challenging times of fascism and foreign occupation from the 1930s to the idyllic farm to table times in the 1970s. A generational saga of longing, loss and displacement, the book is also Camilla’s tribute to her Italian mother-in-law, Alda. This memoir, which focuses on the female perspective, is a love story that vividly recreates life in Florence and the Tuscan countryside. The result is a highly readable and enticing tale that will appeal to anyone fascinated by Tuscany and Italian history. “I wanted to explore the basis for my mother-in-law’s resilience and optimism despite the heartbreaking challenges she faced in her life,” explains Camilla, who left her museum job in New York City to follow her dream of returning to Italy.
During Camilla’s four years at her friend’s Tuscan villa, she harvested grapes and olives, sowed wheat, fell in love, got married, ran a flower shop in Florence and had her first child. “The scope of the book became much larger when an early reader insisted I insert my own connection to Alda and her son Aldo. So, I incorporated my own story and created a bridge of generations living at the family’s farm villa,” Camilla adds. The result is an intimate look at the changing roles and relationships of three generations of women who marry into the Rafanelli family. Through interconnected stories, it explores the importance of place, the tender relationship between women and their evolving roles and status. It also is the story of a shifting patriarchy and challenges the often maligned role of a mother-in-law.
CAMILLA CALHOUN lives with a view of the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York. Her first son lives in Colorado with his family. Her younger son and his wife live only five minutes away. She has written a collection of essays dealing with the loss of her beloved husband Aldo in 2016. Always interested in the connection to and loss of place, she is currently working on a historical novel based on her published essay, A Town Called Olive.