The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

Book - 2019
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When I tell you Stella Fortuna was a special girl, I hope you aren't thinking small-town special. Other people would underestimate Stella Fortuna during her long life, and not one of them didn't end up regretting it. Hundred-year-old Stella Fortuna sits alone in her house in Wethersfield, Connecticut, crocheting blankets and angrily ignoring her sister, Tina, who lives across the street. Born into abject poverty in an Italian village, Stella Fortuna's name might mean Lucky Star, but for the last century, her life has been defined by all the times she might have died. Up until now, Stella's close bond with her sister has been one of the few things to survive her tumultuous life, but something has happened, and nobody can understand what it might be. Does the one life and many (near) deaths of Stella Fortuna have secrets still to be revealed, even to those who believe they are closest to her? By turns a family saga, a ghost story, and a coming-of cranky-old-age tale, Juliet Grames's THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA lays bare the costs of migration and patriarchal values, but also of the love and devotion that can sustain a family through generations, in a sprawling 20th century saga of a young woman with a fire inside her which cannot be put out.--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: London :, Hodder & Stoughton,, 2019.
ISBN: 9781473686281
Characteristics: 438 pages ; 24 cm.


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Jun 24, 2019

What a story; it brought me through a full spectrum of emotions: horror, disgust, hope, melancholy, anger, sorrow. For the first half I was expecting to give it 5* but it lost some steam along the way.

The prologue had me hooked from the first paragraph; the writing and narrative voice is engaging. The beauty, struggles, and traditions of Ievoli are brought to life with description and characters that practically jump off the page. The central characters are well-drawn, complex and messy. The immigrant experience, clash of old and new world traditions and family relations feels authentic.

The opening line is true; Stella endures bad luck on an epic scale: every terrible thing that you can imagine happening to a person, happens in this story. I never really came to like Stella yet still couldn't turn away from her story; which I think takes a skilled author to achieve. This is a debut novel for Grames and I look forward to what she does next.

Jun 14, 2019

This book is so far away from my usual genre, it's not even funny. But at the same time, it almost seemed familiar. As a granddaughter of an Italian immigrant, I was able to empathize with a lot of Stella's struggles, and I recognized a lot of habits and sayings of my own family in hers. Reading this book felt like reading into my own history, in a way. Would definitely recommend.

Jun 04, 2019

Absolutely loved this book! A wonderful tale of the immigrant experience.

JCLGreggW Apr 16, 2019

Astounding and heartbreaking, Grames has crafted a powerful tale of the 20th Century immigrant experience that sounds like it was told in whispers between sips of grappa after weekend dinners when the tables are cleared, the kids are playing in the backyard, and family secrets start to come out.

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Mar 05, 2019

Reading this book was, for me, a perfect example of the way you can appreciate an author's skill even if they're not entirely your cup of tea. This spans the life of one woman across much of the 20th century, charting her family's move from a remote Italian village to America, with the conceit of her numerous near-death experiences giving the book its structure. And, look, I think Grames is an author to watch -- this was ambitious in scope and assuredly written, particularly for a debut. But it's dark! Which is kind of the point -- one of the core themes is women trying (and generally failing) to carve out a life of their own beyond societal expectations for them -- but I think it's a kind of bleakess that will totally hook some readers, and turn others off. If this sounds like your kind of thing, though, this is a new author worth discovering.

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