At first glance there seems to be a simple connection between the suggestive yet simple title of Susan Pohlman’s memoir Halfway to Each Other and the breathlessly gorgeous visions we ave
of Italy, but that would be wrong. The story is so much more.
How a year in Italy brought our family home is enticing and alluring as the sub-title. The photo
of a weathered red door gracing the cover easily brings us through the entry of
this European lifestyle.
Within the pages of this memoir Pohlman is a glorious romantic yet a sensible realist about her marital situation and the risks of leaving her California life behind to live a year in Italy. A place she and her husband have only known as a beautiful spot for a business conference.
For a year she seamlessly blends the practical side of her life with the beauty of this Italian seaside village they call home by sharing her many stories of courage and hope.
The memoir’s real life back story is as arresting as the one we want to create
about our own possible life there.
The words on the pages are inspired by the love between the author’s four family members who leave Los Angeles County for a place almost unknown to them for an adventure of a lifetime.
That’s the gem of the idea that Pohlman nurtures in her imagination and in real life.
She maintains a journal like email trail by corresponding with her girlfriends in LA about her family’s Italian escapades, but eventually keeps these emails private to produce this journal like memoir. She is generously writing and begins the outline of the book.
Halfway to Each Other begins in Italy with Pohlman and her husband on a business trip. She is
contemplating a divorce from him as she is very discouraged and unhappy with the way their life has gone along. They begin to talk one evening about the possibility of taking a year off from that life while the seaside village where they are staying romances them.
This is also the end of the story of Pohlman and her family’s demanding pace in Los Angeles. They have come to a fateful bend in the freeway. When her husband Tim agrees that night at
sunset over a glass of wine that they should go to Italy and live off their savings to find what they have lost they begin ever so slightly to mend their wounds. Their children accept the move at different levels and add a lot to the story.
Pohlman will not know until a chance meeting near their little seaside village apartment that some very wonderful Italian people, now their new neighbors, will change their lives and become forever some of their most loyal friends.
What transpires is a classic expatriate’s success story transcending the commonplace because of the Pohlmans great love for each other as a family and the author’s determination to make it work.
For Pohlman and her husband, as well as their two children of impressionable age, an emergence occurs for them as individuals. As family time travels for them at a new and
slower pace. We are allowed to enjoy their journey.
Theirs is a love so big that Pohlman gives up her constant questioning of herself and her marriage and eventually fully embraces her new life with all the lessons, challenges and opportunities it has to offer.
Like other adventure pieces that capture our imagination Hallway to Each Other is built around
the unique cultural and social mores of an Old World country. I fell in love with Italy while reading these pages and learned a lot about it in this memoir due to the quality of the
A sampling of European immigrants that changed our country’s look and landscape at one time in our history is beautifully portrayed here. This book is a great lesson in
that history and an appreciation of the beauty of the Old Country too.
You don’t need to have an immigrant family history to adore the other characters in this book, but you will value Pohlman’s descriptions and dialogue just the same. She does an
outstanding job endearing their Italian friends and neighbors to us.
You need only a deep appreciation for exquisite writing as this is a story enriched by
the power of abiding love. I highly recommend this memoir as a cozy summer beach read for 2012.