Tag Archives: Luciana Cavallaro

Luciana Cavallaro – *author *writer *historian *teacher *university supervisor

Today, I would like to introduce to you an amazing lady and friend, Anne Frandi-Coory. We connected on Twitter five years ago, when another equally lovely lady, Melanie Selemidis recommended Anne to read my short stories. It was from then on, we found we had not only a common interest in ancient history and mythology, but we also shared the same culture, an Italian heritage. I’ve since read her heart-wrenching autobiographical/memoir, Whatever happened to Ishtar? and more recently, read her latest publication, Dragons, Deserts, and Dreams: poems, short stories and artworks. Her latest book, is a unique collection of poetry, artwork and stories of her familial heritage. Click here for my review of the book.

Anne blog

Anne Frandi-Coory *author *writer *poet *painter *genealogist

I asked Anne if she’d honour me with an interview, and she said yes!  In this candid interview, Anne is honest and her answers will make you want to reach out and hug her. Enough with my ramblings, and over to Anne…

  1. Why did you write this book in this unique compilation?

For a few years after publishing  Whatever Happened To Ishtar?  in 2010 I felt a deep seated  need  to paint and write poetry incorporating some of the memories and family stories I’d written about.  Writing Ishtar?  helped me to organise  my childhood trauma into some kind of chronological order and gave many of the fractured  memories context and adult understanding.  That’s when  poems  and  brush strokes just flowed from me although I’d never written poetry or painted on a canvas in my life before.  Any  task or project I have embarked upon, be it career, marriage, motherhood, writing or painting, I have done with a passion, I know of no other way. Once a particular  passion grips me,  I let no one, or nothing, stand in my way.

I loved reading  to my children when they were little and later  I read to my grandchildren, whenever I helped out with their care. My grandchildren love to share their vivid imaginings with me so when I had completed the painting and poetry of the painful past,  I was inspired to paint images of my young grandchildren’s imaginative stories,  along with the natural world around us, and to write poetry to enhance them all.

Whenever family came to visit they were keen to see whatever painting I was working on and how it was progressing.  I kept a record of these and the rest of my works in a folder. I had intended to write another book when I realised one day looking through my folder, that I had already written and illustrated another book!  Somehow, all the different poems and stories just seemed to fit when I re-arranged them into a certain order. I felt that everything I’d written and painted summed up my whole life. I could see the pain of the past, and the joy that my grandchildren had brought into my life and how much we loved walking around the lakes near my home, watching wildlife and learning together.

  1. How do the poems and short stories relate to each other?

There are two short stories in the book. One relates to my Lebanese grandparents’ emigration from Lebanon to Australia then on to New Zealand, based on my grandfather Jacob Coory’s diary. I wrote the  other story especially for the book because I wanted to encapsulate all the research I’d done into my Italian family history which highlighted the heartbreaking lives of mothers and daughters, especially that of my great grandmother, Raffaela  Mansi Grego.  Compared to the Italian women in my family tree, my Lebanese grandmother and her daughters had a relatively happier existence. The poems pick up some of the hardships the women suffered, and how it impacted upon following generations. Catholicism featured largely in the lives of both my paternal and maternal families, much of it detrimental and in my view, added greatly to the suffering of the women and their daughters. The societies they lived in were patriarchal and certain cultures and conventions  hadn’t changed for centuries. I believe that when a Christian god was installed as the Almighty One and Only God, and pagan gods and goddesses were relegated to nothing more than Classical Studies, life for females became much darker. In this way, the short stories and many of the poems are a literary reflection  of my maternal Italian and paternal Lebanese heritage.

  1. The first third of your book is dedicated to the wrongs done to others and to Mother Nature. I thought the poem, a homage to Daniel, Zahra and Caylee was particularly moving. How does your own childhood manifest in these poems?

The tragic deaths of Daniel, Zahra and Caylee  were front page world news during the years I was writing  my first  few  poems, and their stories really affected me and stayed with me. I couldn’t get them out of my mind, so I sat down one day and wrote a poem especially for them. The words just poured out, and I dedicated it to all abused children. Only then could I get on with my other writings.  My own childhood was full of fear, loneliness and gross neglect by family and others who should have been caring for me, and I felt deeply the horrors  Zahra  and Caylee  had  endured in their short lives from their own families. Daniel came from a loving family, but his last moments at the hands of the  stranger  who murdered him would have been terrifying.  All because a bus driver decided not to stop and pick him up at the bus stop. Likewise, the cruelty that some humans inflict on animals I find deeply disturbing. Life can be fickle, children and animals so vulnerable.  Humans have the intelligence and power to do so much good on this wonderful planet earth,  but sometimes it seems to me that greed and evil are winning. I fight depression by putting my thoughts down on paper. Sometimes they develop into stories and poetry.

  1. It was evident to me from reading your book and from your artwork, this project was filled with love, heartache and triumphs. What experience are you hoping readers will gain from your book?

I wanted women, especially mothers, to soak in my words, to be able to relate to them and for those of us who were raised within strict Catholic institutions, to know that others share the harm done to us and understand.  I would like readers in general to see the balance in my works…that love and the kindness shown by others can overcome tragedy.

Of course I have also written poems which celebrate the imagination of children and the allure of animals and the natural world.  I hope readers can share the joys I have found in my affinity with animals and children, and the solace that the natural world  can bring to our lives if we can accept that we are a part of nature and that we must live in harmony with it.

  1. How difficult was it confronting your own troubled childhood and that of your familial history, when writing the poems, short stories and painting? Did you learn anything while on this journey?

It was much easier than writing Ishtar?  because then I was confronting a jumble of fractured memories without any context. Each time I discovered new information it was another emotional hit and it left me exhausted, depressed and emotionally troubled. However, painting always leaves me in a state of equilibrium and the poems are already formed, seemingly, in my subconscious, so that I am merely transferring them onto an empty page.

Did I learn anything? If I did, it was that much of the emotional pain that I had carried around with me for most of my life, had largely dissipated.

  1. There is a search for innocence, love of a family and tribute to beloved pets in the latter part of the book. Does this reflect contentment and happiness in your life now or are you still seeking solace and answers to your abusive childhood?

When I was a child incarcerated in various  Catholic institutions, the natural world and animals did not feature in my life at all. Any reference to animals or nature were in abstract, that is, told through the prism of religion: God made everything on earth, Noah saved animals on the Ark during  the great flood and St Francis of Assisi loved animals. Most of  the children’s books we were given to read were illustrated bible stories, the images always of perfect human beings and animals.  We knew nothing at all about the actual world outside. When I was a young mum, we had a menagerie of many different animals;  as my children grew up and learned to cherish animals, so did I.  There is no doubt in my mind that animals taught me so very much about motherhood, life, death and loyalty. For instance, as a child, I was terrified at the thought of death. My nights were filled with nightmares of my own and others’ deaths. Having witnessed many times the death of beloved pets due to old age or accident while bringing up my children, I realised how animals accept death as a part of life. Not for them the maniacal scenes of death and destruction nuns and priests often imposed on us as a warning against sin. At first, I could not believe how peaceful death was when our first pet cat was euthanised after a long and happy life. I expected writhing and meowing in  agony and as the tears streamed down my face I waited in trepidation; instead our beloved feline died quietly in my arms. I had paid for the vet to come to our house so our pet who had never left our gardens could be surrounded by that which he loved.  The vet too had tears in his eyes, witnessing my distress. Not everyone I come into contact with is so gracious about my emotional states or as understanding of my passions.  It has been a long process, but yes, the happiness and contentment reflected in Dragons, Deserts and Dreams, is real. I remain  a bit of a recluse, preferring  to strictly control who comes into my life because I still live with trust issues which prevent me from having a normal social life.

  1. What is your next writing project? Will it be inspired by your family’s history or of your life today?

 I have correspondence from hundreds of readers, and both Lebanese and Italian descendants living around the world  which has the potential to be transcribed into a very powerful book.

I’ll await and see what spirits contrive to move me.

  1. Where can people purchase your book?

 Dragons, Deserts and Dreams can be purchased worldwide from Amazon and other online bookstores or if readers live in Australia or New Zealand they can purchase a signed copy directly from me through my blog here

  1. Where can people connect with you?

I’m always happy to receive comments and correspondence from readers either through comments on my blog or via email at


More information about books written by Luciana Cavallaro Here





A new Hero is in Town!

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This is another epic, spell binding story I could not put down! One of my favourite authors, Luciana Cavallaro writes in a way that places you smack in the middle of whatever is happening in Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, or in Perth, Western Australia!  There is nothing about Ancient Greek gods Luciana hasn’t researched and studied, and when Zeus appears before Evan Chronis to give him an urgent Herculean task, you are there to witness it! – Anne Frandi-Coory

Also on Anne Frandi-Coory’s facebook page

The Search for the Golden Serpent is on……… 

Read on *************************

Meet Evan Chronis, a talented architect from Perth, Australia with a chronic sleeping problem. His dreams are so vivid they feel real. Did he actually go for a swim while he slept? They begin to affect his work and health.  He seeks medical help to find out what’s happening to him.

In Search for the Golden Serpent (eBook published March 27) Evan meets Zeus, the King of the Gods. Zeus tells him in order to get back home he must journey through forgotten worlds, lost in antiquity.


Here’s more:

serpent 2It’s not where he appears, it’s when.

What if you’re born during another time, grew up in the 21st century and then were thrust back into the past? Confused? So is architect, Evan Chronis.

Evan, drawn by screams, ventures out to his backyard and sees blood trickling down the limestone stairs. He steps off the veranda and finds himself in the days of great and marvellous power, a time when the gods ruled the universe.

To return to the 21st century life he longs for, he must risk his life in search of powerful, treasured relics older than the Holy Grail. But what he finds might be more than he expected.

Will Evan find the relics and return home or will he remain forever stuck in a world so different from his own?

Order your copy from:



Historical fiction fantasist Luciana Cavallaro, and a secondary teacher, meanders from contemporary life to the realms of mythology. Luciana has always been interested in Mythology and Ancient History but her passion wasn’t realised until seeing the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. From then on, her inspiration to write Historical Fantasy was borne.

She is the author of 5 ebooks and 1 paperback and has spent many lessons promoting literature and the merits of ancient history. Subscribe to her free short story at

You can connect with Luciana Cavallaro via:

serpent 3Website








MORE REVIEWS of books written by Luciana Cavallaro:

Eleven *****  Book Reviews for  …

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? – A Passionate Quest To Find Answers For Generations of Defeated Mothers

 ishtar-front-coverishtar rear cover




Bella Albert

This is an old photo of my precious Bellaboo, holding our copy of a book written by my great aunty, Anne Frandi-Coory, about our italian family;
-I’m honoured to hear from my psychologist and good friend Brett, who has told me he purchased a copy and had received it and is currently reading it; it really warms my heart to know this.
P.S aunty Anne -Brett says you write really well and is very impressed xx Michael Albert. – 2019


Michael Albert

Michael Albert, Bella’s father

Thank you, Michael …that is good to hear. Your psychologist will understand you better after reading my book, ‘Whatever happened To Ishtar?’ The ripples in the generational pond have spread far and wide…❤️💜🧡 I hope to meet you and Bella one day; such a beautiful girl.


This review originally posted here on AMAZON BOOKS 28 March 2017

New Zealand’s Elena Ferrante?…

I don’t write many book reviews, I don’t usually have the time,  but I felt compelled to write this one. I’ve read both of Anne Frandi-Coory’s books; her memoir Whatever Happened To Ishtar? (2010) and her latest publication Dragons, Deserts and Dreams (2016) and it seems to me both are the kinds of books that you keep in order to read again and again. I also follow her book reviews on Facebook closely because she reads the genres I enjoy and she writes great, honest  book reviews.

The honesty with which Anne Frandi-Coory has written her memoir makes me think of her as New Zealand’s Elena Ferrante. The author is a virtual recluse who writes about her childhood living in Catholic institutions and whose existence is violently shaken up periodically when she is taken by her father into his Lebanese immigrant family’s household not far from the institutions she has lived in for most of her formative years. There she endures what she calls the hypocrisy and brutality the women of the household direct toward her and her absent Italian mother who has long since been banished from the home of her in-laws.  The reasons are complex and include the sexual harassment of the author’s mother, an innocent ex Catholic nun. Frandi-Coory’s story is set in a slightly later era than Ferrante’s and dolls eerily feature in her childhood as well. I felt the need to check Frandi-Coory’s book reviews to ascertain whether she had been influenced at all by the Italian author in any way.  Yes, she had reviewed the Neapolitan Quartet Novels by Ferrante, but she had only read and reviewed those books in 2016 six years after she wrote her memoir.  I am amazed at the similarities in writing style as well as in the content and minutiae of the lives of mothers and daughters, even allowing for the authors living on opposite ends of the world. I suppose at the end of the day, women’s lot is universal.

Frandi-Coory embarks on years of research into the lives of her mother and Italian extended family which she was never permitted to have contact with even though the Coory family didn’t want her living with them after her father’s marriage to her mother broke down when she was an infant. She finds that many women in both the Lebanese and Italian extended families lived in patriarchal cultures reinforced by devotion to the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church. Too many children, brutal husbands and a blind faith in a god who never seemed to answer any of their prayers.

I wonder if these families had not left their home countries to settle in such a raw and young country as New Zealand would their lives ever have come under such scrutiny?  As another reviewer of Frandi-Coory’s memoir stated, this is a mammoth book and well worth reading. I also recommend the author’s latest book which, although it contains short stories and poems as well as some of her artworks, cleverly connects the reader to many of the topics she writes about in her memoir.

-Zita Barna, Australia.  28 March 2017


Hi Anne, I expect you are thinking what on earth I am on about when I said I would e mail you.

Rita Roberts 2

Rita Roberts-Archaeologist

Well, I watched a film called  ‘Not Without My Daughter’.  For some reason it made me think about your book  ‘Whatever Happened to Ishtar?’  documenting your traumatic childhood and I had to begin reading it again, because this film helped me understand my confusion with regard to your extended family. I honestly don’t know how you coped with all that hassle You were so brave and I admire you tremendously. I am also so pleased you have Paul and your lovely children making your life now happy. If you haven’t already seen this film you can see it on U tube, and it is a true story. Take care, Rita Roberts (Crete)



*Anne Frandi-Coory’s reply to Rita Roberts  30 November 2016:

Dear Rita

I finally located a copy of the dvd ‘Not Without My Daughter’ (1990) starring Sally Field. Thank you for recommending it to me. I can see why the Iranian family in the movie reminded you of my immigrant Lebanese family that I wrote about in my memoir ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ and why it gave you a better insight into what my childhood, and my mother’s life,  must have been like.

The movie brought so much of my childhood flooding back to me. First of all, the women wearing black burqas evoked images of the nuns in the Catholic Mercy orphanage where I spent my infancy and early childhood. I always get a strong visceral reaction whenever I see women dressed like this, or nuns in black habits, and not because the Mercy nuns were especially cruel; in fact the sister who ran the orphanage nursery was very kind to me. But because I was traumatised by being abandoned at the nursery by my mother, I always feel the same distress all these years later.

The hateful looks directed at the American mother, by the Iranian women in the movie also reminded me of my aunts. My paternal Lebanese family, (grandparents and their 11 children),  all lived, and later,  often visited,  in the same three storey house, so that whenever my father took me to visit his family, I not only had one or two adults abusing or yelling and screaming at me, there were several, all at once. My father rarely intervened, and he was born in that Dunedin house, living there most of his life along with his brother and unmarried sister.  A couple of times I sat on my father’s knee when I was a little girl, and the look my aunts gave me frightened me so much, I never hugged him, or sat on my his knee ever again! They didn’t like me or my Italian mother, and I can only imagine what it was like for her, living with them all. Of course, you will remember that my mother’s severe bipolar disorder took hold while she lived with her in-laws, after she married my father. The family screamed abuse at me often, and reminded me every other day that my mother was a ‘sharmuta’ (prostitute) because she had an illegitimate son, and her Italian culture was also demonised. The family’s racism was something I remember vividly.

My aunts often attacked me in the streets of Dunedin if they thought my clothing was in any way ‘revealing’; once when I was a teenager, two of my aunts attacked me because I was wearing a dress with a skirt that fell below my knees, had a high neckline, but the long sleeves were made of a see-through flimsy fabric. They were so enraged they almost ripped the sleeves off my arms. In the end, I was afraid to walk down the street in case I met them and all I could think of was moving to another New Zealand city to escape them, which I eventually did.

While my father’s family weren’t Muslim like the family in the movie, they brought their very strict Catholic Maronite religion and culture with them. They went to church every Sunday and often during the week. My grandmother, Eva Arida, had an altar in her bedroom dedicated to the Virgin Mary with a lighted candle 24/7. She prayed constantly from a little Aramaic prayer book and was habitually fingering rosary beads. My grandfather, Jacob Fahkrey, of devout priestly lineage, prayed aloud early every morning while walking around the rear yard of the family home. I can honestly say that it was the women of the family who were the most physically and verbally brutal.

I did a bit more research into the true story behind the movie and book Not Without My Daughter, and that was also very interesting. The little American girl who so loved her Iranian father when they lived in the USA, had such a traumatic experience living with her father’s family in Iran, that she refused to ever see him again after she and her mother barely managed to escape to the States. Her father eventually travelled to Finland, a neutral country, with a documentary team hoping to film a reunion with his adult daughter, but she declined.   


Another 5***** Book Review by Linnea Tanner…

Whatever Happened To Ishtar?  by Anne Frandi-Coory is a well-written and haunting memoir of a woman who finds herself by exploring her family’s heritage that contributed to her growing up without the love and nurture of a mother she most desperately wanted. What first attracted me to this book was the title, Whatever Happened To Ishtar?. She is the Ancient Sumerian Mother Goddess who celebrates love, fertility, and sexuality. This title haunted me as I read the memoir because Anne’s mother, like many woman of her generation and previous generations, was harshly judged for her sexuality and had limited options to treat her mental illness and to fulfill her potential. The first part of the memoir is Anne’s account of her childhood while the second part provides a historical account of her Lebanese (father’s side) and Italian heritage (mother’s side).

Anne was institutionalized at the Mercy Orphanage of the Poor at South Dunedin in her early childhood. At the time, her father could not adequately care for Anne after he divorced her mother for infidelity. At the age of eight, Anne was removed from the orphanage and introduced to the real world under the care of her father’s family. However, they shamed Anne and associated her with her mentally ill mother they considered a whore. This part of the memoir is gut-wrenching and haunting because Anne had to overcome loneliness and self-doubt to find her full potential after marrying, having four children, and finding her life partner after a divorce.

However, what is most fascinating is the rich heritage and ancestral genealogy of both her father and mother to understand what nineteenth century immigrants to Australia faced. With no access to birth control, women faced multiple pregnancies or secretly resorted to self-induced abortions with crude knitting needles. The historical accounts that Anne researched help explain why her father and her mother were compelled to make their choices. I recommend this memoir because the story will stay in your memory as it covers universal issues of female sexuality, women’s roles and options, mental illness, and society’s harsh judgment that has defeated mothers for generations.

-Linnea Tanner 25 April 2016

Linnea Tanner

Linnea Tanner

-More about Linnea Tanner here:


Book Review by FLAXROOTS  14 July 2015

Whatever Happened To Ishtar?  by author Anne Frandi-Coory


Anne Frandi-Coory –  7 years old

This book is a memoir of the life of Anne Frandi-Coory the daughter of an Italian mother and a Lebanese father.

Having spent a childhood, peppered with abuse and harassment, between a Dunedin orphanage for the poor and her father’s Lebanese family Anne was regarded as a backward child. She describes the panic she felt as a toddler as her father departed after one of his visits, and goes on to relate episodes from her strict upbringing in the orphanage where she was segregated from her two brothers once the boys turned five years old. Memory of the order of happenings in her early life is sketchy and this is aptly conveyed in her narrative.

She was not well received by her father’s family though she lived with her father at his family’s house intermittently, but never feeling at ease there and alleging various kinds of abuse.
Married in her teens Anne gave birth to four children and devoted herself to nurturing them during which time her marriage failed and she struggled to avoid a mental breakdown.

Later in life Anne devoted herself to researching the Lebanese history of her father’s family and the Italian forebears on her mother’s side, hoping to understand her relationship with her Italian mother who was shunned by Anne’s father’s family and who couldn’t look after her children except for very short periods.
The account of the arrival of the Frandi family as assisted immigrants to New Zealand in 1876, as opposed to those arriving in a self funding capacity, makes interesting reading.
The poems and quotations at the beginning of each chapter have obviously been chosen with care and sensitivity and give an added dimension to the book. The same can be said for the inclusion of family photographs mostly lent by other family members. There is a certain poignancy here as Anne had few, if any, family photos while she was growing up; thus emphasising what she refers to as ‘her paper-thin sense of identity’
There is a freshness about the author’s style and she succeeds in conveying emotion about the lack of emotion and caring shown to her in her formative years.

Having, as a child, lived in fear of dire consequences if she didn’t follow strict rules and try to emulate the saints she may have developed the discipline to achieve a good education which, no doubt, helped in her later endeavours to track her forebears and learn the history of their migration to New Zealand.
The bibliography includes useful references and illuminates the paths she travelled.

With regard to the publication the title is apt and the cover is eye-catching. The paper edition is perfect bound but the biggest drawback is the lack of an adequate gutter making the book difficult to hold open for any length of time. There are three very minor identical grammatical inconsistencies plus an odd discrepancy about two rivers.

The author is to be congratulated on her enterprise in producing a valuable resource for her family and an interesting and instructive read for the rest of us.

It seems Ishtar has risen from the ashes!


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? by Anne Frandi-Coory – Book Review by Pauline Csuba published in issue no. 387 The Australian Writer March 2015

Anne Marie Coory 1958

Anne Frandi-Coory – 10 years old

Haunted by her mother’s restless spirit filtering through every thought and dream, this book was written not only for the appeasement of her mother but for her children and grandchildren.  Anne Frandi-Coory has embarked on a journey of genealogy taking on a rich history, research, and unpleasant memories.

Distressed at the hands of her Lebanese father’s extended family and The Mercy orphanage for the poor – this story of lost generations, abandonment, abuse and gross neglect by those who should have known better – is a story of a personal account and the connection with the Catholic Church and its institutions. Brutality, emotional deprivation and lack of nurturing all culminated in a dark side of two families unable to communicate with one another. With the history of these Lebanese and Italian families and how they settled in New Zealand, this makes for an interesting read.

It is a mammoth book and I felt by removing some areas of repetitions may have freed the flow of emotion that could allow the reader to connect much sooner with the powerful experience being shared. I congratulate Anne for taking on this traumatic journey of her past and the long process of research, writing and editing of her work. It is wonderful to see she now has a loving partner and family who have supported her in this passionate quest. I recommend this book to those who are or have embarked on a similar journey.

-Pauline Csuba


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? by Anne Frandi-Coory – 5 star

When I started reading this book, I expected to finish it quite quick but in truth, it took time to digest the words and their significance. It is a journey, both biographical and autobiographical in approach. The author seeks to find her place not only in society but who she is. This is an extraordinary search which uncovers the history of her maternal and paternal lineage.

What is revealed is both heart-rending and powerful, a personal narrative. Ms. Frandi-Coory’s pursuit as to why her mother abandoned her while a baby is a difficult journey of self-discovery. How could a mother leave her children is the driving question behind the author’s plight. That, and trying to understand who she is and to identify with the family nexus and her place within it.

Her father, ill equipped mentally and economically to rear his daughter and son, placed them in an orphanage run by catholic nuns. It was not a pleasant time for either and the author gives vivid descriptions of her time incarcerated. Her father’s family weren’t the most pleasant people, abusive both verbally and physically. Why? Her mother was considered a harlot and mentally unstable, therefore she was of the same ilk. The cultural mix of Italian and Lebanese blood, the author is driven to learn more about both sides of the family and why they behaved in such a contrary manner.

I admire Ms. Frandi-Coory for writing this book. She revealed secrets most families would prefer to remain hidden to detriment of those who were and are victims. This is a brave expository, which shows the cycles of abuse can be stopped with determination and strength of character.

-Luciana Cavallaro 11 January 2015

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Luciana Cavallaro

More About Luciana Cavallaro here:


Gerald Gentz

Gerald Gentz

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? by Anne Frandi-Coory – AMAZON BOOK REVIEW by Gerald Gentz USA 30 December 2014

‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ is more than a book and more than a story. It is the telling of a remarkable journey of discovery of one person’s difficult life. Anne Frandi-Coory spent much of her life trying to find a place and the love of a family. Book ended between a caring but weak father and mentally ill mother unable to care for her financially or emotionally, Anne and her brother, Kevin, suffered childhoods that no child deserves to experience. In the end, even the scars would not prevent them from making stable and successful lives.

Anne’s long research into both the paternal and maternal sides of her family is remarkable for it’s depth and acceptance. In doing so, she exposed her demons and the dysfunctions of her maternal and paternal families. The result is a culmination of her difficult journey to understand herself. Her greatest victory is her coming to understand the love of her mother and the realization of her love for her mother. Anne’s was a journey of discovery and healing.

This can be a difficult book to read at times because of the emotions it elicits. It was particularly emotional for me because of my realization that Anne is actually my cousin that I was not aware I had, her mother being my mother’s older sister. Anne’s book gave me a deeper awareness of my maternal family, and thus my mother, than I had before. So Anne Frandi-Coory’s journey of discovery was also mine in 373 pages.

Gerald Gentz


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? by Anne Frandi-Coory – 5 star *****GOODREADS BOOK REVIEW by Susan Tarr

“WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? By Anne Frandi-Coory is a remarkable portrayal of New Zealand’s earlier Lebanese and Italian Catholic families. Although I was raised in the various vicinities this book covers, I had no idea there were established Lebanese families in New Zealand. And, for me, the whole Catholic religion was shrouded in mystique, so I had very little understanding of what was involved in being a part of the Catholic faith.

Set in New Zealand, the spartan buildings of the Catholic St Vincent’s orphanage mirrored in some part those of Seacliff Mental Asylum (Otago, NZ) in both outlook and care of those in their charge. Both would seem to have lacked a close affection for those who needed it most: the vulnerable and unloved.

This work is an amazing testimony for all mothers, a testimony we can probably all relate to. How many times do we feel inadequate, or feel we could have done better? We should never have such constraints placed on us as a mother to feel either of these. Whatever a mother is capable of at that time, for her child, is sufficient for that time.

As Frandi-Coory bears out, it is always possible to break mindsets, or break the mould, as it is said. I.e. the sins of the father… All it takes is an invincible will, which clearly she had and has.

Frandi-Coory recounts the histories of both her Lebanese and Italian families. She explains how the various mindsets occurred and how they were passed down through the generations.

I found I kept referring to the photographs as I formed opinions on the various players in this tapestry of life.

What is astonishing here, is that Anne Frandi-Coory and I never made a connection until after our respective books were published, in separate countries. It was through reading each others work that we realised our lives were very closely linked. In fact we may well have known each other through a mutual friend (Italian) during our college years in Dunedin, NZ. That is why I can vouch for the events, scenery, time frames and cultures in this amazing work.

It’s absolutely raw in its honesty.

Very well written, it’s a compelling read, from start to finish.

Kudos to Anne Frandi-Coory.

-Susan Tarr 14 October 2014

Susan Tarr

Susan Tarr

More about Susan Tarr here:


MOMO Photo ABC ‘Let’s Read’…

 I am a member of a photo group where we get a prompt for every day and have to take an appropriate picture. Because we had the alphabet one month, I decided to do a book theme. I always added either the link to my blog or to the books. I have decided to post a picture every week so my booky friends can enjoy them, as well.
A is for … Autobiography.  Two biographies by some very strong women:

Anne Frandi-Coory  Whatever Happened To Ishtar? 
Immaculée Ilibagiza  Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

Momo 2014


‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ is

“An amazing journey – challenging, painful, and ultimately unforgettable”  – Tanith Jane McNabb, Owner of Tan’s Bookshop Marlborough NZ, 27 October 2014 on


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See here *MORE reviews for ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?‘ and where to buy this book



I’m sure Mistress Mythology, Luciana Cavallaro, has ancient Greek blood flowing in her veins. Her knowledge of the Greek Classics is already legendary on social media; that’s how I discovered her. She can make readers believe that she knew the goddesses she writes about, intimately and personally.

Accursed Women contains five legends in one volume, and is one of my favourite and treasured books:



Luciana Cavallaro, who is a Perth teacher and historian, is adept at weaving ageless legends within a modern motif. Therefore her short stories are easy to read and allow us to see the ‘goddess’ in all women. Not only their feminine beauty and charm, but especially their jealousies, vindictiveness and intrigues. Have  we women all been cursed with these attributes and human weaknesses, one may well ask?

For instance, we all love Athene, the goddess known for her wisdom, courage, law and justice, just warfare, among many others. But she could also be heartless and capricious. It’s possible that Athene, the avowed virgin, was one of the earliest models for Christianity’s Virgin Mary. She was the chief priestess and protectress of the Temple built to honour the gods.

It was she, Athene, who welcomed the beautiful virgin sisters Medousa, Sthenno, and Euryale as priestesses into the safety of the Temple. They were in danger following Zeus’ declaration of war on the old gods. The three sisters were vivacious and competitive in all things, no different to the sibling rivalry we see in modern families. But when Medousa was raped by Poseidon in the Temple, everything changed for the sisters.  Poseidon sought revenge on an innocent girl. How dare the people of Athens choose Athene as their patron over he who had offered the precious gift of water. The goddess had merely offered the olive tree.  And wasn’t he, Poseidon, the most powerful god after Zeus? Through no fault of her own, Medousa, along with her sisters, were cruelly ejected from the Temple by Athene because of Medousa’s lost virtue. The ensuing horrors visited upon Medousa, which turned her into one of the Gorgones, are truly blood curdling.

Medousa the Gorgone

Medousa the Gorgone

The author mixes the chronology of events in Medousa’s story, Cursed By Treachery, which works well in highlighting the anger and power of ancient gods, and the vulnerability of their accursed female offspring caught in the throes of war and vengeance. Available here in e book format via AMAZON



-Book Review Accursed Women by Anne Frandi-Coory 30 December 2013

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Mistress Mythology, Luciana Cavallaro

I have listed below links to previous reviews I have written for each of the other four stories included in the anthology – Anne Frandi-Coory

Accursed Women by Luciana Cavallaro:

Cursed by Treachery (Medousa’s story above) 

Aphrodite’s Curse

The Curse Of Troy; Helen’s Story

A Goddess’ Curse

Boxed In A Curse


Published in March 2015 

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BOOK REVIEW for Search For The Golden Serpent



Aphrodites curse

APHRODITE’S CURSE  by Luciana Cavallaro – book review

See trailer below for  ‘Accursed Women’ anthology including this short story and 4 others by the same author…

My personal message to Phaedra:

Many of us mere mortals know that ‘unrequited love is a harsh companion’ but still…you made a promise to build a magnificent temple to Aphrodite beside the Akropolis in return for what?  To inflame your ‘bronze athletic’ step-son Hyppolytos with the same passionate lust you felt for him?  Oh, Phaedra, with your family history you should have known better. 

The author, Luciana Cavallaro allows the Princess Phaedra, daughter of King Minos, to tell her fateful life story in her own words.  She begins by taking the reader on a tour of the king’s ancestral palace, Knossos. Her vivid descriptions of the intensity of the colours and scenes gracing the walls must have dazzled and enthralled all visitors. Reading her words, as she walks us through porticos, endless corridors and the vast central court make me yearn to be there amidst the music, games, dancing and theatrics. Like her privileged mother and sisters, the princess enjoyed luxuries such as exquisite gowns, finest jewellery, and the most precious pottery.  These Kretan royals knew how to live!

Phaedra tells us proudly that the Kretans revered Nature and were conservationists. There are many contradictions in her accounts though; human and animal sacrifices were common.  The lives of superstitious ancient Greeks were just as fraught with all manner of subterfuges, intrigues, curses and violent jealousies as were their gods. The indefatigable thirst for vengeance, battles and assassinations taking place in this story make the strife in our modern world seem mere trifles by comparison.

The author weaves together many ancient Greek myths skilfully as the basis for Phaedra’s testimony about the lives and loves of members of her own family as well as others who play vital roles in her life story. This is a powerful autobiography in every sense of the word and makes for a very enjoyable read! The reader will recognise many names: Pallas, Ikaros, Ariadne, Theseus, Dionysos to name but a few. For a beautiful woman who had the world at her feet; fine husband, wealth, two dutiful sons, Phaedra risked it all only to be spurned. Her end was not a happy one.

One cannot even trust the Goddess of Love to get it right;  Aphrodite wasn’t above revenge!

Available here in e book format via AMAZON

  • Anne Frandi-Coory  23 September 2013


Luciana Cavallaro has published an anthology of five Greek classics including ‘Aphrodite’s Curse’

‘ACCURSED WOMEN’ book trailer:


A Goddess’ Curse by Luciana Cavallaro, author and historian.  

See trailer below for  ‘Accursed Women’ anthology including this short story and 4 others by the same author…


Drake Dabbler, a young journalist prone to theatrics, interviews an older woman of incredible beauty and stature. He reaches out to the studio audience to help him create a festive mood which he is sure will encourage  the interviewee to reveal innermost secrets about her life and loves. After all, no other person has ever been granted an interview with her and this could be a career-changing event for him.  As far as he’s concerned, this is rock star level entertainment.

But he is playing with fire, for she is no mortal woman; she is Hera, Olympian Goddess and Queen of the Gods. Wife and sister to no less a supreme being than Zeus!  As the interview progresses, Dabbler’s hubris begins to show as he flirts while Hera seems to play the game, albeit reluctantly at times.  Like most modern celebrities, Hera finds the media tedious with their probing questions and intrusions. Then Dabbler delivers a ‘Gotchya’ to the Queen which annoys her even more. One thing you do not want to do, is annoy Hera.  However, Dabbler misses the cue that his ‘quarry’ is inwardly seething; Hera so skilled in the art of revenge, narrows her ice blue eyes.  She who has battled with some of the most powerful gods and goddesses in history is pressed, by this young man,  to disclose the incestuous nature of her and her family’s relationships.

Dabbler doesn’t stop there, though. He brings up her husband Zeus’ numerous affairs and resultant illegitimate children. Her smile puts the young man at his ease, and this spurs him on. He then has the audacity to question Hera about their disabled child Hephaistos and the circumstances of his conception and birth.  Dabbler continues to embarrass the goddess with insults and questions about the intimate lives of her and her family. By now there is a disconnect between Hera’s smiles and her eyes.

Perhaps Dabbler’s preoccupation with thoughts of the awards he thinks he is going to win for this interview distract him from the changes in the Queen’s tone and the fixation of her eyes on his.  He dares to accuse her of what he sees as past excesses in war and her manipulative behaviour.  In her own defence, Hera protests: ‘We are divine…..We epitomise everything mortals aspire to be’.  It becomes alarmingly clear at the end of the staged drama just where Dabbler’s aspirations will lead him.

I enjoyed the detail about the lives and loves of gods and goddesses in this story. Tales about Hera’s far-reaching power are riveting and her  intrigues are sometimes surprisingly human.  Luciana Cavallaro is a wonderful short story-teller who knows her Greek gods intimately. If you are interested in ancient Greek history and the Olympian world, you will love this book as much as I do. Available here in e book format via AMAZON 

  • Anne Frandi-Coory 7 September 2013


Luciana Cavallaro has published an anthology of five Greek classics including ‘A Goddess’ Curse

‘ACCURSED WOMEN’ book trailer:


Boxed In A Curse  –

Short Story by Perth author Luciana Cavallaro

See trailer below for  ‘Accursed Women’ anthology including this short story and 4 others by the same author…

Teacher and historian, Luciana Cavallaro, is adept at weaving ageless legends within a modern motif, and in this case, a fable that can also hold children spellbound.

Boxed In A Curse is a story most of us have known as ‘Pandora’s Box’. However, the vessel that held the curse was actually a pithos or large jar, sealed tightly with wax to keep ‘the evil’ within. Many archaeologists and Ancient Greek historians interpret the pithos as an analogy for Pandora’s vagina, and the fear that men associate with the wicked female temptress, the cause of man’s ‘downfall’.  The author’s title is a telling one; ever since Pandora unwittingly released ‘bad things’ [via menstruation] into the world, women have been confined by deep prejudice to a role as the ‘ruin’ of mankind.

The Greek mythological narrative informs us that numerous gigantic and powerful gods fought for supremacy over the earth and universe.  Wars were commonplace, but after a particularly vicious and bloody war that lasted ten years, Zeus entrusted loyal brothers Prometheos and Epimetheos with the task of creating creatures. The former constructed man in the image of the gods while the latter created all kinds of animals and birds. Zeus, an over-zealous and jealous god, was very concerned with Prometheos’ creation; man with intelligence and guile could challenge the will of the gods! And to make matters worse, Prometheos gave the gift of fire to man, after stealing it from the home of the gods.  Zeus was furious! In his anger he ordered Hephiastos, the divine smith, to make an entity that would ‘serve to be a gift of poison to man’.

Various gods in the hierarchy were summoned by Zeus to fashion this new entity with dexterity, sexuality, love, fertility and other qualities. Hera, queen of the gods and of marriage, endowed Hephiastos’ project with curiosity, a trait that would ultimately set off a chain of catastrophic events for mortals.  The first mortal woman, she who was infused with the gifts of the gods, was named Pandora. Both man and gods were enthralled and fascinated by Pandora’s beautiful perfection.

Pandora’s early life was filled with carefree days enjoying the wonders of the world until Zeus gave Pandora as a gift to Epimetheos, which didn’t exactly please her.  After a struggle with her desire to control her own life, Pandora accepted that she could not defy the gods. Later, during the marriage ceremony, the gods watched each other and Pandora, constantly making smart remarks laced with sarcasm and at times, snarls.  Needless to say, Zeus was not impressed with the heckling and bantering.

A quiet lull in the festivities enabled Hermes, on behalf of Zeus, to present the bridegroom with the sealed pithos. He warned Epimetheos not  to ever open it, but could say no more. Hermes advised him to issue the same warning to Pandora.

Over the years, Pandora and Epimetheos lived happily enough, although Pandora’s curiosity about what was contained in the un-opened wedding gift, never left her in peace. She thought it odd that she and her husband were forbidden from opening what was rightfully theirs. Cunning Zeus knew how to exploit the weaknesses of Hephiastos’ creation. When Pandora could resist temptation no longer, she broke the wax seal and opened the jar. From that moment on life changed for both mortals and immortals, but in the end, Pandora does manage to partly redeem herself.

Many Christian legends about the first man and woman on earth, and the creation of the world, have obviously been transposed from Ancient Greek mythology. Luciana Cavallaro juxtaposes the two in her own unique style.  She depicts many scenes between mortals and immortals with vivid detail, almost as though she was there in person at the time.  This, along with the modern setting in which she places Pandora’s story, made Boxed In A Curse such a relevant and enjoyable read for me. Available here in e book format via Amazon

Anne Frandi-Coory  22 August 2013


Luciana Cavallaro has published an anthology of 5 Greek classics including: ‘Boxed In A Curse

‘ACCURSED WOMEN’ book trailer

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