I don’t know if it’s just me, but between The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and now The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, the number seven is apparently having a moment in literary circles…
It’s Monday, so that means it’s time for a brand new 50 Book Pledge Featured Read! We’ve featured quite a few historical fictions and thrillers so far this year, so we thought we’d switch it up entirely and go with a book that pretty much defies classification. It’s a little literary, it’s a little historical, it’s a little family drama, and it’s entirely tremendous!
Some might say that Stella Fortuna is cursed. You see, death has always been a part of her life since the beginning, even in the simplest of moments. For instance, typically death doesn’t rear its head when you’re cooking eggplant or feeding the pigs. Even Stella’s own mother (her OWN mother!) is convinced that her daughter is either cursed or haunted. I mean, that’s the only logical explanation, right?
Because of this, Stella is seen as a bit of an oddity in her Italian village. Equal parts beautiful and smart, insolent and cold, Stella uses her peculiarity and toughness to protect her slower baby sister Tina from the harsh realities of life in their rugged village. In doing so, though, she attracts the ire of her father, a “man who demands subservience from women and whose greatest gift to his family is his absence.”
Not soon after we meet the Fortuna clan, things take a bit of a turn. As Europe finds itself on the cusp of World War II, the Fortunas emigrate to America, where Stella and Tina realize rather quickly that they must now come-of-age in a hostile, confusing new world. Not only that, but they also have to contend with the strict expectations placed on them by their family. It doesn’t take Stella very long to realize that her survival in this new world is worthless without the one thing her family continuously denies her: the chance to be her own person.
Flash forward to present-day Connecticut. As one family member of the Fortuna clan seeks to learn their family’s story, they narrate the life of Stella for us in an effort to understand the rift that grew between Stella and Tina – a rift that still divides them to this day, as they live out their elderly days.
Oh, I think we forgot to mention one thing. This sweeping, epic, tragic, magical, [insert other adjectives here] novel is a DEBUT novel!(!!!) Right?! I can’t remember the last debut novel I’ve read that tackled such complex issues in such a beautiful, enlightening way. From Calabria to Connecticut, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is a sweeping family saga about sisterhood, secrets, Italian immigration, the American dream, and one woman’s tenacious fight against her own fate. And we promise that you are going to LOVE it!