G793 Book Review of dreaming sophia by Melissa Muldoon

Name of Book: Dreaming Sophia

Author: Melissa Muldoon

ISBN: 978-0-9976348-0-8

Publisher: Matta Press

Type of book: Italy, fairytale, culture, art periods, dreams, Sophia Loren, famous personages of Italy, Venice, Rome, Sonoma Califonira, Florence, Lucca, Verona, Val d'Orcia, family, friends, art, destiny

Year it was published: 2016


Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d'Orcia. Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities--princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars-- who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.


The story is more focused on Italy and why the country is seductive thus the characters aren't strongly developed as one thinks. First there is Sophia, a young woman marked by tragedy and Italy from the time her own mother was seduced by the country. She tends to be late a whole lot and is uncertain of her path or choices. She also is marked by destiny and is helped by numerous famous Italian personages in making choices throughout her life. There are also Sophia's parents, a woman who is an artist that has been seduced by Italian culture and its people. Sophia's father is a lawyer but loves and admires her and her mother. Lorenzo is Sophia's crush that comes with a complication and that is heavily attracted to Sophia. He works as a museum director.


Taking risks equals to moving towards one's destiny


The story is in first person narrative from Sophia's point of view. From the table of contents, I at first thought that perhaps these chapters will be more about history of the art or its period at least, but when I began to read it, I realized that these periods relate to Sophia's journey through Italy. Because the book is designed to be read as an e-book, and I have a print copy, I had some difficulties with understanding the Italian language in the story, but I still enjoyed the phrases and loved their appearance in the book. Also as well, expect for a lot of fascinating cultural tidbits about Italy on how they celebrate holidays to its bureaucracy and transportation system.

Author Information:
(From Italy Book Tours)

Buy the Book:  

Amazon – print
Amazon / Kindle – ebook
Create Space
I-tunes – Apple Store-ebook
Barnes & Noble – ebook


  • Meet the Author:

Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, "matta" means "crazy" or "impassioned". Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, "Tutti Matti per l'Italiano" and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.

Dreaming Sophia is Melissa's first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she'd never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That "thing" was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.
Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.

Connect with the Author:
Website  ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Youtube ~


Right now its cold where I live, therefore expect a lot of cold metaphors. Imagine a perfect wintry day where the reader is stuck inside with the cheerful fire blazing, music playing, drinking a warm cup of hot chocolate while learning interesting tidbits about Italy. That's what reading this book was like for me; a soft warmth of whimsical fairy tale which was heavily reminiscent of Erica Bauermeister's cooking school duology where one reads simply to escape and get away from the banalities of life. The story is of Sophia, a young woman named after Sophia Loren by a mother who was seduced by Italy and its culture. Sophia grows up in a very loving house but then when her life is upended by tragedy, she decides to move to Italy and begins a journey towards her destiny. The book itself is populated with a lot of popular historical personages from Dante to Sophia Loren to de'Medicis and so forth that guide Sophia in her choices. Along with that, what is also cool are the snippets of the art throughout the different periods and how these periods relate to Sophia's life. If the reader is a neophyte when it comes to Italy but is daunted by its history as well as looking for a modern escape, then this is the right book to get lost in.

This is for Italian Book Tours


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Book reviews nature photos and everything in between - review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


  1. Melissa was able to draw you into the Italian culture with her characters. i learned so much about Italy and its history thru a fun story - I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but watch out it will make you want to retrace Sophia's steps and visit Italy!


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