The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

Juliet Grames. Ecco, $27.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-286282-2
Grames’s vivid and moving debut follows its heroine from a childhood in the early 20th century in a tiny Calabrian mountain village to her family’s immigration to America when she is 19 and then through a long life including a marriage about which she has decidedly mixed feelings, many jobs, and even more children. When the novel begins in the present, Stella is 100 years old and has been brain-damaged for the past 30 years following a fall that required an emergency lobotomy and that left her with a mysterious hatred for her lifelong best friend, her younger sister Tina. The novel’s unnamed narrator, one of Stella’s granddaughters, reconstructs her life history with the help of Tina and other family members. She shapes it around Stella’s numerous near-death experiences, which include being gored by a pig and choking on a chicken bone. Grames keeps the spotlight on stubborn, independent, and frequently unhappy Stella, while developing a large cast of believably complicated supporting characters and painting sensually intricate portraits of Calabria and Connecticut. With her story of an “ordinary” woman who is anything but, Grames explores not just the immigrant experience but the stages of a woman’s life. This is a sharp and richly satisfying novel. (May)
Reviewed on : 02/22/2019
Release date: 05/06/2019
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-286284-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-291761-4
Paperback - 978-0-06-291163-6
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