cover image The Good Left Undone

The Good Left Undone

Adriana Trigiani. Dutton, $28 (448p) ISBN 978-0-59318-332-8

This sweeping epic from Trigiani (Tony’s Wife) follows three generations of the Tuscan Cabrelli clan as they deal with war, heartbreak, and family secrets. Octogenarian Matelda Roffo, knowing her days are numbered, reveals to her children and grandchildren the truth about her mother Domenica’s seldom-discussed first marriage to the Scottish sea captain John Lawrie McVicars. Flashback to 1939 when Domenica, while practicing as a nurse, recommends birth control to a patient, angering a local priest who forces her to leave her hometown. She ends up working at a hospital in France, where she meets McVicars while treating his neck wounds. The looming war takes McVicars away, but the two run into each other in Glasgow, Scotland, a year later and decide to marry. Tragedy strikes and Domenica returns to Tuscany to make a life for herself and her newborn Matelda. In the present, Matelda’s revelations send ripples across the family and change the trajectory of her granddaughter’s life. Some of the many subplots about minor characters distract from the emotional core of the story, but Trigiani’s lush descriptions and trademark acute attention to family dynamics more than compensate. This saga of family and legacy is one to savor. Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor. (Apr.)