publishes familyís biography
Express Staff Writer
to know what aspects of Consolata Pennayís family memoir, "Ottaviaís
Family," is the most remarkable. It certainly would be easy to say
that it is her motherís story. The book is named for her.
year in their new home in East Africa eight Viglietti children pose;
six brothers, one sister and Consolata Pennay is in the yayaís arms. Courtesy
much more. For instance, thereís the pioneering spirit of the whole
family, the struggle to stay Catholic and Italian in a deeply foreign
culture, and the remarkable achievements and lives of the parents as well
as each of the children.
Viglietti bore six children in Italy before immigrating to East Africa in
1950. There, she and her husband, Mario, added five more to their brood.
to stay afloat, they worked hard at farming, and other endeavors. Twelve
years later, after East Africa became unsafe for Europeans to live in, the
family moved to Cape Town. Along the way the children were sent to a grim
convent school where they were taught in German by Swiss nuns, spoke
Swahili, learned to hunt big game and survived various adventures.
seventh of Ottaviaís children, now lives in Ketchum, where she is
married to piano player and lodge owner Alan Pennay. Their long distance
romance is one of the many gems contained in this self-published tome.
parents are deceased, so Pennay interviewed her many Italian relatives to
flesh out the story of her family.
always interested in my mother and fatherís histories. Maybe because I
was the first child born in Africa."
11 siblings, five of her sisters are still living in Turin, Italy. Pennay
was able to interview them, and she also spoke with an aunt who is the
only surviving member of her fatherís family.
researching her parentís lives, Pennay came across a diary that her
mother had written while in Africa.
interviewed each of her own siblings, all of whom were supportive of the
idea of a memoir.
All but one
of her siblings still live in South Africa, and together they run a
successful Ferrari business, Viglietti Motors. Her sister Annie moved to
Boise with her family several years ago.
the boys are in business together, the ties remain very close. Weíve
always been very close knit. Itís only distance that separate us."
self-possession in her story telling, a reverence for her parentís
travails and deeds, and a love for her family that is tangible throughout
the book. The first part of the book is from her motherís point of view,
the second half is from her own.
wrote the book for my nieces and nephews. They knew so little about their
because her parents both died before any grandchildren had been born,
"They were only exposed to their South African relatives. I felt they
needed to know this. Thatís why I did this and I feel Iíve achieved my
goal for them," Pennay said.
a story rich in fascinating localesófrom Turin to Venice, where they
boarded a steamer for Africa, to the small towns they lived in while in
Tanzania to Johannesburg and, finally, to Ketchum, Idaho.
There is a
book signing, Thursday, June 20, with the author in the Sun Room at the
Sun Valley Lodge from 4 to 6 p.m.