The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

A Novel

Book - 2019
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In this stunning debut novel, a young woman tells the story behind two elderly sisters' estrangement, unraveling family secrets stretching back a century and across the Atlantic to early 20th century Italy. 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.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2019]
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780062862822
Characteristics: xvi, 445 pages :,genealogical table ;,24 cm.
Alternative Title: 7 or 8 deaths of Stella Fortuna


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debwalker May 12, 2020

Costco Pennie's Pick for May 2020. "....combines two of my favorite things: debut novels and sweeping family dramas. Stella Fortuna is beautiful, smart, insolent and cold. She's also a fierce protector of her younger sister, Tina. However, when the family moves to Connecticut during World War II, Stella's independence is threatened. In modern-day Connecticut, a family member shares Stella's story, including the rift between Stella and Tina."

Aug 02, 2019

Great writing, and easily a compelling read. I took off a star because certain vivid descriptions were not needed, and immortalizing the extension of Stella's families failures and successes left the characters under developed.

Aug 01, 2019

This is a fabulous read. None of the previous reviewers have commented on the extreme abuse that Stella, her mother and her younger sister are subjected to by their father. This story really shows the unfairness of a strict patriarchal society. Stella is so strong though and totally inspiring. I read this book faster than I wanted to as I felt like savouring it, but just couldn't stop once I got involved in her story. I loved this book and highly recommend it. I look forward to future work by Juliet Grames!

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.

TripodSnowDog 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.

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