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Author Marianne Leone’s two published books are about family members, but one tells the sorrowful story of her son’s untimely death, and the other features the struggles of her feisty Italian mother.
At the J.V. Fletcher Library on Nov. 7, Leone read from her book, “Ma Speaks Up: and a First-Generation Daughter Talks Back,” bringing a bag of mixed emotions to share with her audience as she unpeeled the complex layers of her Italian mother.
Leone started with the story of how her mother made it to the U.S. from a small village in Italy using a last name that was not hers and what happened when she reached Boston.
“She did have secrets and I never learned this one secret until she was in her 80s,” said Leone, referring to the her mother’s ocean passage to America under a last name that was unknown to Leone.
“So I titled the beginning of the book the official story. Because there’s the official story that you hear and then there’s the real story,” said Leone.
Leone chronicled her life with her mother, whose eruptive temper frightened her. She told of her mother’s “bizarre ramblings” calling them “as zany and outlandish as Saturday morning cartoons.”
“There was nothing guileless or hopeful or optimistic about her,” said Leone.
The author’s earlier book was named “Knowing Jesse: A Mother’s Story of Grief, Grace, and Everyday Bliss.”
The book tells of her son’s premature birth, his disabilities, and death from epilepsy.
According to her Facebook page, “Leone is an actress, screenwriter and essayist. She had a recurring role on HBO’s “Sopranos” as Joanne Moltisanti, (Christopher’s mother) and has appeared in films by John Sayles, Martin Scorsese, the Farrelly Brothers, and Larry David, among others. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, Post Road, Solstice, Coastal Living, Bark Magazine and WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog. She is married to Chris Cooper, an academy-award winning actor.”