Lippi, Rosina 1956- (Sara Donati, Rosina Lippi-Green)

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Lippi, Rosina 1956- (Sara Donati, Rosina Lippi-Green)


Born 1956, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Arturo (a cook) and Mary Ennis (a waitress) Lippi; married William Green (a mathematician), July 16, 1988; children: Elisabeth Green. Ethnicity: "Italian/northern European." Education: Attended teacher's college in Vorarlberg, Austria; University of Illinois, B.A. (with highest distinction), 1982; Princeton University, M.A., Ph.D., 1987. Politics: Liberal. Hobbies and other interests: Linguistics, critical language studies.


Home and office—Bellingham, WA. Agent—Jill Grinberg, Grinberg Literary Management, 244 5th Ave., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected].


Writer, novelist, educator, and lecturer. Taught grade school in Austria. Held academic positions in linguistics and creative writing at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Western Washington University, Bellingham.


Authors Guild.


Ernest Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, 1999, for Homestead; PacificNorthwest Booksellers' Award, 1999.



Homestead, Delphinium Books (Harrison, NY), 1998.

Tied to the Tracks, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2006.

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2008.


Into the Wilderness, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Dawn on a Distant Shore, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Lake in the Clouds, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Fire along the Sky, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Queen of Swords, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2006.


(Editor) Recent Development in Germanic Linguistics, J. Benjamins (Philadelphia, PA), 1992.

Language Ideology and Language Change in Early Modern German: A Sociolinguistic Study of the Consonantal System of Nuremburg, J. Benjamins (Philadelphia, PA), 1994.

(Editor, with Joseph C. Salmons) Germanic Linguistics: Syntactic and Diachronic, J. Benjamins (Philadelphia, PA), 1996.

English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States, Routledge (London, England), 1997.

Contributor of short fiction and academic articles to periodicals, including Epoch, Redbook, and Glimmer Train Stories.

Contributor of academic articles to books, including Language Ideologies; Critical Perspectives on the Official English Movement, edited by Roseann Duenas Gonzalez and Ildiko Melis, NCTE (Urbana, IL), 1999, and Language in the USA: Perspectives for the Twenty-first Century, edited by Edward Finegan and John R. Rickford, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1999.


Rosina Lippi spent four years in the Bregenz Forest area of the Austrian Alps, the setting of her first novel, Homestead. The book contains twelve linked vignettes covering a period extending from 1909 to 1977 in the fictional village of Rosenau, with its population of 363, and surrounding homesteads. Included are clan charts and a glossary explaining the language and customs of the region.

Homestead chronicles the cycles of farming and life and focuses on three generations of women whose names provide titles for the book's chapters. It opens with the arrival of a postcard in the isolated town's post office, addressed to Anna Fink. Because of naming customs, the postcard signed "Your Anton" could be intended for any one of seven women. The letter's effect on Anna of the Bengat homestead begins the interwoven tales.

The women experience the effects of World War I as their men fail to return, leaving the women feeling vulnerable and unprotected. The stories revolve around family, community, and love, reflecting the cares and longings of most women. Angelika, of the Bent Elbow homestead, "measures her own worth by the quality of the cheese she makes for her husband," commented Booklist reviewer Melanie Duncan. One story, called "moving and poignant" by a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, tells of an Italian deserter who offers comfort to spinster Johanna, who has never known love. Each link to the outside world has a profound effect on the villagers, but by the book's end, they have become integrated into "the continuing cycles of birth, marriage, death and the changing seasons," according to the Publishers Weekly reviewer, who concluded that it is the "cumulative effect" of the individual stories that pulls the reader into a period and place "at once strange and universal."

Writing under the pseudonym of Sara Donati, Lippi is the author of several well-received historical novels with a romantic and adventuresome twist. She was a professor of linguistics "when she was hit with the notion to tell a story where women featured prominently in adventurous roles," noted interviewer Linda Richards in an interview with Donati for January. "I was in an academic setting where such things are frowned upon," Donati related to Richards. "You know: plot is a four-letter word. And I just had a real interest in frontier stories." Unsure if her work would ever see print but determined to tell her stories, Donati forged ahead to create the Bonner family novels, a series of books with strong thematic and character connections to James Fenimore Cooper's timeless novel, The Last of the Mohicans. In the first book of the series, Into the Wilderness, the year is 1792, and twenty-nine-year-old Elizabeth Middleton has just arrived in America from England. Here, she hopes to escape the restrictions placed on British women and enjoy a rewarding career as a schoolteacher in upstate Paradise, New York. Soon, however, she meets Nathaniel Bonner, a character much like Natty Bumppo from Cooper's Last of the Mohicans. The rugged Bonner is the son of Cooper character Hawkeye, himself the adopted son of another Cooper creation, Chingachgook. The very essence of the handsome and romantic frontiersman, Bonner is connected to the land, to family, and to his home on a mountain called Hidden Wolf. Elizabeth quickly falls in love with Bonner and hopes that a relationship with him will thwart her father's plans to commit her to a dreaded arranged marriage to a rich doctor. In the course of the novel, once-sheltered Elizabeth gains the toughness of mind and body necessary to survive on the frontier. When Bonner is seriously injured in the middle of the forest, Elizabeth sets off alone to find help. She learns to defend herself not only from nature, but from expected assailants. People reviewer Laura Jamison cautioned that readers might at first find the novel too heavily weighted with cliches and unappealing derivations from other works. "If you can hang on, though, the author builds a powerful adventure story" starring a pair of appealing protagonists, Jamison commented. Booklist reviewer Diana Tixier Herald called it "the romance of the year when it comes to transcending genre boundaries" and satisfying readers who long for "lush historical epics or thrilling backwoods adventure."

Dawn on a Distant Shore continues the story of Bonner and Elizabeth, now a married couple. Shortly after Elizabeth gives birth to the couple's twins, Bonner must travel to Canada, where his father has been arrested and imprisoned by the British. Instead of helping his father escape, however, Bonner is also arrested and jailed as a spy. Determined to save both men from hanging, Elizabeth sets out across the northern wilderness to rescue them, new babies in tow and accompanied by Bonner's ten-year-old half-Indian daughter, Hannah, from his first marriage. The men are freed, but matters worsen when the twin infants are kidnapped and the family finds that to recover the babies, the Bonners must sail to Scotland and become involved in a complicated scheme involving Scottish nobility, political machinations, and inherited castles. "The likable protagonists, a multitude of amusing secondary characters, and exciting escapades make this a compelling read," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "Donati's skillfully told and captivating romantic historical saga brings a tumultuous era and dashing characters to life," commented Booklist reviewer Diana Tixier Herald.

Lake in the Clouds, the third book in the Bonner family saga, is "a sweeping, enjoyable historical adventure-love story," observed reviewer Kathleen Hughes in Booklist. In this installment, Hannah is maturing into a beautiful young woman with exceptional skills as a healer. When a runaway slave named Selab Voyager is discovered near their home, sick and heavily pregnant, Hannah ignores the risks of helping a runaway slave, curing the woman's illness and nursing her back to health. The risk to the Bonner family is heightened when Voyager's connection to a prominent local family is exposed. Voyager belonged to the sister of Ambrose Dye, the overseer at the town's center of economic stability, the town mill. For reasons unknown, Voyager killed Dye's brother-in-law, and the family wants her back. The story is complicated when bounty hunter Liam Kirby arrives looking for the slave—a man who turns out to be Hannah's longtime friend and first love. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that the novel will "please fans of soap-opera-style historical fiction."

Fire along the Sky continues the "engrossing historical family saga," remarked Joyce Saricks in Booklist. In this installment, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner have aged, and their adult children are the novel's main protagonists. The War of 1812 is raging, and Hannah returns home with deep emotional wounds and without her husband and child. Despite the turmoil, twins Lily and Daniel have reached young adulthood and are setting out on their own paths, Lily to study art in Montreal and Daniel to serve as a soldier in the war. Meanwhile, Lady Jennet, recently widowed and newly arrived from Scotland, has come to New York seeking the love of her life, Nathaniel's son Luke. Lily discovers both the hardships and deep satisfactions of romance, and Hannah, still exceptionally skilled as a healer, searches for peace and reconciliation with her personal tragedy. In the background, a murder mystery brews as a local woman is suspected in the deaths of a mentally ill woman and a freed slave. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book "an episodic but entertaining novel held together by the kind of family loyalties that defy cruelty, war, and even fate itself."

The fifth book in the series, Queen of Swords, is also set during the War of 1812. Here the action and adventure comes at a fast pace. Jennet Scott has been captured by the French and is freed by her husband, Luke, and his half-sister, Hannah. During her imprisonment, Jennet has had a baby, Nathaniel, and entrusted the young boy to a Creole merchant to take him to safety. However, learning that this merchant has claimed the baby, the Scott family head for New Orleans to find their missing son. They are aided in their search by Ben Savard, the half-brother of a local plantation owner. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the "conclusion predictable and the pacing uneven," but went on to note that "fans of epic historical adventures will be captivated by the exotic setting and intriguing story line." Library Journal reviewer Nanette Donohue had higher praise for Queen of Swords, noting that Donati/Lippi "treats her characters with sensitivity and does not shy away from tackling thorny themes." Donohue went on to add, "This fast-paced, engaging book is sure to draw in readers." Similar praise came from Booklist contributor Sarah Johnson, who wrote: "Avid historical fiction and romance readers will devour it."

Lippi has also written present-day fiction. Her 2006 novel, Tied to the Tracks, is a contemporary story set in Georgia. The title comes from the name of a rather economically distressed film production company that has been hired to film a documentary about the well-known writer Zula Bragg, who is now at a college in Ogilvie, Georgia. The head of the company, Angie Mangiamele, is surprised to cross tracks once again with her old lover, John Grant, now chair of the Ogilvie English department. Grant is about to marry, and Angie and he make their best efforts to pretend there is nothing between them. A Publishers Weekly reviewer was less than enthused about this novel, commenting that Lippi "falls victim to the predictable plotting of contemporary chick lit in her first present-day excursion, a story of love in a small Southern town." The reviewer also felt that "the novel makes no real emotional demands." Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews critic called the book "bright and entertaining, but ephemeral." Library Journal contributor Nanette Wargo Donohue termed Tied to the Tracks a "mannered slice of college-town life." Higher praise came from Booklist contributor Carol Haggas, who observed, "Lippi handles the prenuptial disruption and a dazzling array of hot-button social issues (racism and homosexuality among them) with cool aplomb."

Lippi's The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square takes its title from a square in the small southern town of Lamb's Corner, South Carolina, where the peripatetic John Dodge opens a pen shop. His plans are to turn this business around in a year or so and then sell up and move on, his usual custom. However, after meeting some of the denizens of Lambert Square, in particular Julia Darrow, the pajama-wearing owner of a bedding shop, Dodge's plans go awry. A Kirkus Reviews critic com- mented: "Generous servings of affectionate wit and charm don't wholly compensate for the slender, overstretched story line." Other critics had a higher evaluation of the novel, however. Reviewing this work in Booklist, Patty Engelmann found it to be "a cozy read that will enchant readers with its southern charm." Further praise came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who wrote: "Lippi makes a great story out of how a hardcore wanderer and an agoraphobic come together."

Lippi told CA: "My primary interest is historical fiction told from a woman's perspective. Homestead is my effort to look at the repercussions of the world wars on women who lead quiet lives in a remote place, but who have vivid internal lives, wants and sorrows and needs that any other woman will identify with. Into the Wilderness is another such attempt, in a different approach to the frontier mythology based around Daniel Boone and the idea of wilderness. Here I wanted to retell some of those stories from the perspective of the women as well."



Booklist, February 15, 1998, Melanie Duncan, review of Homestead, p. 983; July, 1998, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Into the Wilderness, p. 1858; January 1, 2000, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Dawn on a Distant Shore, p. 833; April 1, 2000, Karen Harris, review of Into the Wilderness, p. 1481; September 15, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Dawn on a Distant Shore, p. 226; May 15, 2002, Kathleen Hughes, review of Lake in the Clouds, p. 1554; August, 2004, Kathleen Hughes, review of Fire along the Sky, p. 1868; February 1, 2005, Joyce Saricks, review of Fire along the Sky, p. 986; May 1, 2006, Carol Haggas, review of Tied to the Tracks, p. 72; September 15, 2006, Sarah Johnson, review of Queen of Swords, p. 5; December 15, 2007, Patty Engelmann, review of The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square, p. 26.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of Lake in the Clouds, p. 824; May 1, 2006, review of Tied to the Tracks, p. 430; December 1, 2007, review of The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square.

Library Journal, January, 2000, Andrea Lee Shuey, review of Dawn on a Distant Shore, p. 158; October 1, 2004, Nanette E. Wargo, review of Fire along the Sky, p. 68; June 15, 2006, Nanette Wargo Donohue, review of Tied to the Tracks, p. 58; October 1, 2006, Nanette Donohue, review of Queen of Swords, p. 57.

People, August 31, 1998, Laura Jamison, review of Into the Wilderness, p. 40.

Publishers Weekly, January 26, 1998, review of Homestead, p. 71; June 22, 1998, review of Into the Wilderness, p. 85; January 3, 2000, review of Dawn on a Distant Shore, p. 55; July 22, 2002, review of Lake in the Clouds, p. 159; August 16, 2004, review of Fire along the Sky, p. 44; April 10, 2006, review of Tied to the Tracks, p. 45; August 21, 2006, review of Queen of Swords, p. 49; November 5, 2007, review of The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square, p. 41.


All about Romance, (March 4, 2006), Nora Armstrong, review of Lake in the Clouds; Andrea Pool, review of Dawn on a Distant Shore., (March 4, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of Fire along the Sky.

Best Reviews, (March 4, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of Lake in the Clouds.

DQ, (March 4, 2006), review of Lake in the Clouds.

January, (March 10, 2008), Linda Richards, interview with Sara Donati.

Romantic Times Online, (March 10, 2008), Lauren Brathwaite, review of The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square.

Rosina Lippi Home Page, (April 17, 2008).

Sara Donati Home Page, (April 17, 2008).

Writer Unboxed, (October 5, 2007), Kathleen Bolton, "Author Interview: Rosina Lippi/Sara Donati."