We are posting recommendations of books by our sponsor, Eight Cousins bookstore in Falmouth. This week’s book is “The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna” by Juliet Grames.
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.
“Witty and deeply felt.” —Entertainment Weekly (New and Notable)
“The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna achieves what no sweeping history lesson about American immigrants could: It brings to life a woman that time and history would have ignored.” —Washington Post
About the Author
Juliet Grames was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up in a tight-knit Italian-American family. A book editor, she has spent the last decade at Soho Press, where she is associate publisher and curator of the Soho Crime imprint. This is her first novel.
“[A] meaty family saga set in Calabria and Connecticut, crossing two centuries and five generations…. In conjuring this absorbing life, Grames has created a satisfying doorstop of a book, rich in detail, tightly written and delightfully easy to get lost in.”
— New York Times Book Review
“’The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna’ achieves what no sweeping history lesson about American immigrants could: It brings to life a woman that time and history would have ignored.”
— Washington Post
“Epic in scale and richly detailed…. Grames holds the reader under a spell from start to finish as she constructs a puzzle of identity formed against convention…. Grames’s clear and compassionate voice lets the figures of her heritage move freely.”
— O, the Oprah Magazine
To follow Eight Cousins on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, click on the links below.