cover image The Girls of Piazza d'Amore

The Girls of Piazza d'Amore

Connie Guzzo-McParland. Linda Leith Publishing (LitDistCo, North American dist.), $13.95 trade paper (164p) ISBN 978-1-927535-19-6

In 1955, the village of Mulirena is on the verge of radical transformation, as more and more families leave Italy to seek new opportunities in North America. Nine-year-old Caterina witnesses the last days of the old way of life before her family immigrates to Montreal. Fiction blurs with memoir in Guzzo-McParland's debut novel, as the older Caterina, like the author herself, seeks to write a Calabrian love story inspired by memories, finding that she cannot separate the lives of the older girls she admires from the story of the village and its people. While at times it can be hard to keep track of the many characters, and there are moments when exposition slows the pace of the novel, Guzzo-McParland's characters such as Professore Nucci and U Gruncu ("the crab") are vivid, and her descriptions of place, customs, clothing, and food are evocative and memorable. The stunning tale of a "marriage by proxy"%E2%80%94in which the bride plans "the best wedding that Mulirena had ever seen," even though the groom she has not yet met is in Montreal and his brother stands in for him at the ceremony%E2%80%94highlights the tension between the customs of the old world and the unknown future that awaits immigrants in their new home. (Sept.)