My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - in and out over 3 days
Pages - 464
Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton
Blurb from Goodreads
For Stella Fortuna, death has always been a part of life. Stella’s childhood is full of strange, life-threatening incidents—moments where ordinary situations like cooking eggplant or feeding the pigs inexplicably take lethal turns. Even Stella’s own mother is convinced that her daughter is cursed or haunted.
In her rugged Italian village, Stella is considered an oddity—beautiful and smart, insolent and cold. Stella uses her peculiar toughness to protect her slower, plainer baby sister Tina from life’s harshest realities. But she also provokes the ire of her father Antonio: a man who demands subservience from women and whose greatest gift to his family is his absence.
When the Fortunas emigrate to America on the cusp of World War II, Stella and Tina must come of age side-by-side in a hostile new world with strict expectations for each of them. Soon Stella learns that her survival is worthless without the one thing her family will deny her at any cost: her independence.
In present-day Connecticut, one family member tells this heartrending story, determined to understand the persisting rift between the now-elderly Stella and Tina. A richly told debut, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is a tale of family transgressions as ancient and twisted as the olive branch that could heal them.
This is the story of Stella Fortuna, her brushes with death and her family life. Split into Childhood, Youth, Maturity, Old Age & the epilogue we also travel from Italy to America. We kick off in Ievoli, Stella's beginnings, her family, the strong heritage, expectations and of course her "dances" with the grim reaper.
The book has so many layers, told from Stella's descendant giving the book a believable voice with passion and emotion. The book spans over a lifetime, Stella's and we come through strict Italian values and beliefs, war, sexual abuse, family dynamics, relationships, family values. So many topics and issues are covered and many are difficult to read, Stella is such a fierce character and her mother has some moments raw human emotion. The book packs a powerful punch on so many levels and you are sucked into their world, their constrictions, emotions and frustrations.
The journey to America, settling into the lifestyle, the absent father, the rights a husband has over his family in their marriages, finances and the overall rule the man of the house has. The complex family relationships is huge throughout the book in pretty much all of the chapters, an emotive read for sure, impressive writing and I look forward to seeing what is next from this author, 4/5 for me this time!
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