Egidio: Ora et Labora, Volume 1
Log in to rate this item
What would drive a man to leave everything he ever knew and loved for a journey that could cost him his life? Emboldened by his desire to see the so-called "New World," Egidio Antonio LaCava leaves his small town in Italy in 1909 to cross the Atlantic and find the life he has dreamed about in America. Leaving from Naples, Italy, Egidio boards the Luisiana, a five-thousand-ton twin-screw streamer with twenty-five first-class and sixteen hundred third-class brave souls. What he witnesses on the ship - deceit, extortion, a tragic childbirth, prostitution, a shocking love story, and even a murder amidst the mighty Atlantic's relentless fury are foreboding harbingers of days to come. What lies ahead for this twenty-year-old boy from Corleto Perticara, with twenty dollars in his pocket and fire in his eyes, will change the course of history. Egidio, though bright, ambitious, and dynamic, with the clearest of vision, will need every morsel of these gifts to ensure his survival. He is quick to befriend the quirky cast of characters on the ship who help him along his journey: Rodolfo, the history professor and priceless source of information about Ellis Island: the artist/poet Angelo of Rome, with his comforting late-night recitations: Kin Lei Liu, the venerable, gray-haired Chinese cook, a mentor: Dr. Alcindorini (the good doctor), who holds a coveted first-class cabin next to Rodolfo: and Marcello DeSanto, the shy religious steward from Palermo, who becomes Egidio's best friend: a close relationship that will be cut short by tragedy. Children separated from parents, deportation based on false pretense or refusal to bribe officials with money or sexual favors, and inflated rail tickets and monetary exchange rates are just a few of the abuses Egidio witnesses on Ellis Island. Many immigrants are sent back to Europe, never to fulfill their dreams, but Egidio is determined to use any resource possible to start his new life. Finally, he boards a train to Meriden, Connecticut, and starts the final leg of his long journey. But he doesn't know that he will soon work for this same railroad company, which will start him on his destiny to greatness!