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Sisterly Love

“Sisterly Love” is a true story of a child, Cloris De Matteis, reunited with her family at the tender age of two-and-a-half years old.  At the age of six months old, she was sent to her grandparents in the heart of rural Piedmont, and because of the war, had to be precluded to live with her parents and her elder sister. The story begins when her father comes to fetch her to take her home to her native town, Stresa, on the border of Lake Maggiore in the north of Italy, traveling more than 270km by bicycle.

In her brief life with her beloved grandparents, Cloris had the privilege of experiencing true unconditional love, total affection and firm acceptance from them, but as soon as she arrived in the birth home, the atmosphere in her own family was far from what she had been used to. Her sister, three years older than her, could not stand her, believing her a threat to her “only daughter” status for more than five years. Bad deeds and cruelties to Cloris’s detriment came with daily frequency, and being the youngest of the family, nobody believed her when she “told” about her sister’s malevolence. Her parents always believed her sister’s version of events, never doubting her word. As the first born and the favourite, Cloris had to always regrettably accept these discriminations against her. Her mother was constantly angry and moody with the whole world, but in particular with her husband, as she was terribly jealous of him. His extra-marital affairs caused a great deal of stress for her, which in turn she focused her negative emotions towards little Cloris, who was continually treated with detachment and with intolerance. Her father was never at home, and during the rare occasions he was there, he did not want to be disturbed; always busy with his businesses, stamp collections and soccer which were his real passions, not giving Cloris the faintest bit of attention or affection that she desperately craved.

At a tender age, Cloris understood that she was of no importance to anybody in her family, and it was painfully evident to her that her distant father and her neurotic mother did not want to accept their roles as her parents. A very troubled and unhappy life followed Cloris during her childhood in every aspect, firstly because of the complete disinterest of her parents, secondly because of her sister’s dominating and ferocious nature. She was forever at her sister’s mercy. Because of her constant mistreatments, Cloris regularly fell sick, with her mother reluctantly taking care of her, time spent away from her own precious obsessions. Cloris’s only wish was to go and stay with her loving grandparents as much as she possibly could, but even if she spent every summer vacation with them, it was never enough for her. Through time the only punishment she feared most was when her mother does not allow her to go to her grandparents, making her suffer terribly. Cloris looks back at her life with a quagmire of feelings, surrendering with bitterness and with regret to the fact that she was never loved by her parents or by her sister, who never accepted her and who she made her feel the victim until the end. Only her little brother, born seven years after her, accepted her love, the love she could never give to the other members of her family. Even when Cloris married and left the family home, her sister’s interfering found new levels of cruelty and new ways to persecute her. Her role as an oppressor knew no bounds, believing it was in her right to offend, humiliate and ostracize her. Cloris could only describe her as an ‘evil puppet master’, always entangling the lines to subdue Cloris to her will. She was an expert in turning things upside down to her pleasure, always believed and never being found out in her misdoings by her parents, who thought the world of her. Her place as the favourite daughter was never questioned or challenged.  “Sisterly Love” brings forth a truthful story of two sisters who could have loved each other and who could have spent a constructive, harmonious and affectionate life together, but because of her sister’s jealousness and insecurities, coupled with the little participation of their parents in their affairs, who never taught her to cherish a younger sister by rectifying matters between them from the beginning, her young life became an emotional rollercoaster of discrimination and harassment. The story is an extraordinary account of their lives, written with the accuracy and love of Cloris’s attention to detail, to reconstruct these often painful memories in a simple yet enthralling way. It is a real account of family life in Italy of the 1950s and 1960s, with her neat descriptions of people, places and all the mostly bad situations in her life.

It is a genuine story which will leave the reader astonished for the complete lack of love in Cloris’s life. Nonetheless, Cloris was able to leave the family’s “snake pit” and recreate a new rewarding life for herself far away from those who belittled her throughout her sad and depressing childhood.

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