The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna
By Juliet Grames
A perfect book club and holiday read that crosses from early 20th century Calabria to Connecticut and will appeal to fans of Captain Correlli's Mandolin, All the Light We Cannot See and Brooklyn.
Mariastella Fortuna, known as Stella, was born into rural poverty in a Calabrian village in the early 20th century. After being abandoned by their father, who left to seek his fortune in L'America, Stella grew up with her beloved mother Assunta, her brothers Giuseppe and Luigi and her sister Tina. Tough, vivacious, and fiercely loyal, the sisters were inseparable, going on to support each other through immigration, marriage, children, loss - and the seven (or eight) near-death experiences Stella suffered throughout her life.
Beginning in their childhood with the time she was burned by frying oil, Assunta became convinced that her eldest daughter was cursed, a victim of the Evil Eye or a malevolent ghost. But after Stella woke up from 'The Accident', an eighth brush with death, it was Tina who she refused to speak to. Now the sisters have not spoken in thirty years.
Determined to solve the mystery of this falling out, it's up to the family historian to connect the inexplicable dots in Stella's dramatic story, and to suggest, redemption of the battle-scarred and misunderstood woman who has lived her life with a fire inside her which could not be put out.
'A compulsive, huge-hearted novel about family, home and how women move through the world; you don't read this book, you live it.' Erin Kelly, author of He Said / She Said
Juliet Grames was born outside of Hartford, Connecticut, into a tight-knit Italian-American family. She attended Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in history from Columbia College. For the last fifteen years she has worked in book publishing, and is currently Associate Publisher at Soho Press, where she edits literary fiction, crime fiction, and literature in translation. She lives in Brooklyn.
- Other details
- Publication date:
07 May 2019
- Page count:
Hodder & Stoughton
A compulsive, huge-hearted novel about family, home and how women move through the world; you don't read this book, you live it. — Erin Kelly, author of HE SAID/SHE SAID
The story of Stella Fortuna, transported from the hilly villages of Italy to the noisy, smoky, claustrophobic heart of immigrant America is by turns captivating, shocking, heartbreaking and life-affirming. This is no ordinary family epic; it is the story of generations of women who, in conformity and non-conformity, blaze with strength, compassion and formidable will. Writing with a sure hand, Grames brings to us a perspective of the Italian immigrant experience that few have dared to examine . . . An extraordinary debut — Vaseem Khan
From beginning to end I was immersed in and fascinated by every mile of Stella's epic journey through life; geographically, temporally, philosophically and emotionally. Passages of lyrical intensity conjure visions of picturesque villages and old-world landscapes, but there is always the jolt of reality - from which Grames does not balk - and the darker aspects of life are drawn with bold frankness, resulting in an emotional force that illuminates every page. A beautifully painted portrait, majestic and masterful; a very fine novel indeed. — Laura Carlin
Fresh and intriguing . . . gripping — Sabine Durrant
A sweeping story of immigration, family, betrayal and most importantly, one extraordinary woman. This book is gorgeous, harrowing and magical — Julie Cohen
Juliet Grames has written a magnificent debut, creating a deeply felt, richly imagined world based upon her family history. The dark beauty of Calabria and the promise of America sets the stage for Stella's volatile life, which will be a fight to the finish as she survives a brutal patriarchy while navigating complex family ties and expectations. Moody, original and profound. Brava! — Adriana Trigiani
Reading The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is like listening to the rollicking stories of your Italian grandmother - full of memorable characters and speckled with fascinating bits of history. This is a fantastic and timely family story — Jessica Shattuck
This is wonderful storytelling, seamlessly capturing the love and horror at the heart of family. Juliet Grames's novel, tracing the extraordinary life - and deaths - of an ordinary woman, sits the reader down at a well-laden table, and offers a hugely satisfying feast. Delightful — Mick Herron