Four Acres under Slavnik is the history of the small country we now know as Slovenia, but at the beginning of the 20th century it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The dissolution of the Empire, life under Italian fascism, war, and the transformation to communist Yugoslavia is told through the voices of Any Fradel’s family in Primorska, the coastal region of Slovenia. Their letters give an intimate and authentic insight about their views on social and historic events.
The story begins in 1913 when Marija Fabjančič bid farewell to her brother Jožef as she began her journey to West Virginia to be married. She imagined a happy return in two years with money to expand their four-acre farm in a valley under a mountain called Slavnik. The letters that would cross the ocean between Marija and Jožef speak freely of family sorrows, disagreements, and longing to stay connected to each other and their land as they face the challenges of life in a new country and of survival under Italian oppression and wars in the old.
Amy Fradel was the recipient of the 2022 Slovenian Union of America Literary Award for an excerpt from this book. Using letters and oral history and with help from her family in Slovenia she has written a well-researched work of nonfiction that both serious historians and those interested in the real experiences of their immigrant ancestors will appreciate.
Readers comments include:
“In reading your book I learned a lot about those tough times. I have a whole new outlook on what my parents went through.”
“Amazing, well-researched, touching story. I could not put it down. I learned a lot about history I never knew.”