‘Songs on the Wind: Essays from a life with no borders, only horizons’ by Alexandra Gregori
Reviewed by Diana Guild
If you are a quilter, which I am, this book would be a sampler quilt. Alexandra Gregori gives us glimpses of her life, and her family through Songs on the Wind. Like a sampler quilt, there is at least one theme, and in Songs, it is most definitely food. Food recurs throughout the book and holds the reader captive not just with the tastes and experiences (balut!!), but provides a consistent underpinning to the stories of Gregori’s life.
Songs is vibrant with colourful descriptions – food, starry skies, rattletrap vehicles – but where Gregori shines is the way in which she weaves descriptions of her family into the book. Her descriptions and perceptions of her husband and children flow so clearly from her heart. Her gift in Songs is that of stitching aspects of each member of her family together. By the end of the book of separate essays we see the compilation, the complete person and get a feel for the family.
Gregori’s writing reflects her generosity of spirit and personal philosophy. Difficult or strange experiences and situations are peppered throughout Songs. Gregori does not brush these aside. Instead she is brilliant at using these situations to give the reader insight into the way she is, the way she views the world, and what is important. If you are a quilter, this would be the fine hand-quilted patterns stitched over the top that subtly shine and provide a ‘wholeness’ or consistency to the quilt.
The patchwork of essays that is Songs gives us a view of Gregori’s whole – her life, her loves, her world. It is an exceptionally delightful read.