MATER GLADIATRIX by Richard Marin

MATER GLADIATRIX

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Investment Banker Marin (Global Pension Crisis: Unfunded Liabilities and How We Can Fill the Gap, 2013) pens a tribute to his mother, an unconventional, fiery force of nature.

Ludmilla “Millie” Uher was born in the small upstate town of Myers, New York. She was the daughter of two immigrants from Czechoslovakia who separately traveled to the New World in 1901. Her father, John, found employment in the salt mines by Lake Cayuga. Eventually, he would own property and businesses (including a profitable Prohibition-fueled sideline) that would ensure his family’s security. Millie, the first in her family to finish high school, went on to obtain a degree from Cornell University and began a career with the New York State Welfare Department. Seven years later, she was off to the far reaches of Venezuela, working for an outreach program run by the Rockefeller Foundation. It was the beginning of a life devoted to creating and running international development programs for the United Nations. In Venezuela, she met and married Andre Silvano Prosdocimi (later changed to Marin), a handsome, smooth-talking Italian transplant. They had three children (including the author) before they divorced after 10 years, leaving Millie to provide for her family on her own. Marin’s able prose is cloaked in the tone of a third-person biographer, referring to his mother as Millie and himself as “Richard.” The result is a text that is more dispassionate (albeit admiring) than one would expect from offspring—with one consistent exception. All descriptions of Andre betray the sting of a son neglected by a self-centered father. Sharp-edged humor infuses every reference to the man he introduces as “Mr. Wonderful.” He writes: “His only fatherly advice to his son in his later life would be to ‘never let anyone but an Italian cut your hair.’ ” Marin’s tendency to wander into ancillary subjects—the geological and immigration history of upstate New York, the development of the ski industry in New England—are informative and interesting, although some readers may find them disruptive.

Engaging and articulate; an enjoyable ride alongside a woman with a lust for adventure.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 2017
Publisher: Lulu
Program: Kirkus Indie
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