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The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel
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Ecco 2019
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Description

From Calabria to Connecticut: a sweeping family saga about sisterhood, secrets, Italian immigration, the American dream, and one woman's tenacious fight against her own fate

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.

"Witty and deeply felt." —Entertainment Weekly (New and Notable)

"The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna achieves what no sweeping history lesson about American immigrants could: It brings to life a woman that time and history would have ignored." —Washington Post

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/07/2019
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062862846
ASIN:
B07CL41GXH
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Juliet Grames. (2019). The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel. Ecco.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Juliet Grames. 2019. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel. Ecco.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Juliet Grames, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel. Ecco, 2019.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Juliet Grames. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel. Ecco, 2019. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Juliet Grames was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up in a tight-knit Italian-American family. A book editor, she has spent the last decade at Soho Press, where she is associate publisher and curator of the Soho Crime imprint. This is her first novel.

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From Calabria to Connecticut: a sweeping family saga about sisterhood, secrets, Italian immigration, the American dream, and one woman's tenacious fight against her own fate

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...

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title
The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna
fullDescription

From Calabria to Connecticut: a sweeping family saga about sisterhood, secrets, Italian immigration, the American dream, and one woman's tenacious fight against her own fate

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.

"Witty and deeply felt." —Entertainment Weekly (New and Notable)

"The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna achieves what no sweeping history lesson about American immigrants could: It brings to life a woman that time and history would have ignored." —Washington Post

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      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly (starred review)
      • content: "[A] vivid and moving debut.... 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."
      • premium: False
      • source: Jackson Clarion-Ledger
      • content: "Unputdownable.... This is a book that cuts to the core of what it means to struggle in a new place, to fight for a family you love.... The writing is so good and the book flows along seamlessly, revealing a mastery of storytelling, sense of place, a touch of magical realism, and unforgettable characters that you will love and hate.... This is a book worth getting lost in."
      • premium: False
      • source: Jessica Shattuck, bestselling author of The Women in the Castle
      • content: "Reading The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is like listening to the rollicking stories of your Italian grandmother— full of memorable characters and speckled with fascinating bits of history. This is a fantastic and timely family story."
      • premium: False
      • source: O, the Oprah Magazine
      • content: "Epic in scale and richly detailed.... Grames holds the reader under a spell from start to finish as she constructs a puzzle of identity formed against convention.... Grames's clear and compassionate voice lets the figures of her heritage move freely."
      • premium: False
      • source: Town & Country
      • content: "This debut novel...follows one fascinating family as they make their way from Italy to America on the brink of the Second World War, only to find that some problems—often ones that have to do with who you are and who you're related to—aren't so easy to outrun."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: "[A] meaty family saga set in Calabria and Connecticut, crossing two centuries and five generations.... In conjuring this absorbing life, Grames has created a satisfying doorstop of a book, rich in detail, tightly written and delightfully easy to get lost in."
      • premium: False
      • source: Gina Apostol, author of Insurrecto
      • content: "The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is a novel you can't put down. Above all, I envied its sureness, an effortless control remarkable in a debut novel, in which the shrewd and humorous confidence of the narrator's voice powers a breakout saga of immigration and familial love."
      • premium: False
      • source: Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Tony’s Wife
      • content: "Juliet Grames has written a magnificent debut, creating a deeply felt, richly imagined world based upon her family history. The dark beauty of Calabria and the promise of America sets the stage for Stella's volatile life.... Moody, original and profound."
      • premium: False
      • source: Vol 1Brooklyn
      • content: "Takes a sprawling approach to several decades of American history, exploring the life of a woman whose proximity to death is far greater than most of her peers. Grames incorporates themes of immigration and inter-generational conflict into her work, creating a powerful and resonant work."
      • premium: False
      • source: Harper's Bazaar
      • content: "If you're going through Elena Ferrante withdrawals, this is the book for you. A rich, sweeping tale of an Italian-American family and their long-buried secrets."
      • premium: False
      • source: AARP Magazine
      • content: "A poignant debut novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: Providence Journal
      • content: "This is a novel people will be talking about for years to come."
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Post
      • content: "'The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna' achieves what no sweeping history lesson about American immigrants could: It brings to life a woman that time and history would have ignored."
      • premium: False
      • source: Entertainment Weekly
      • content: "Grames' witty and deeply felt family saga begins in a pre-WWII Italian village, where young Stella Fortuna learns the hard truths of life (and death) as she grows up with an abusive father and immigrates with her family to the U.S."
      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2018

        Soho Press associate publisher Grames offers a richly imagined debut novel drawing on her grandmother's history. Beautiful, smart, and unyielding, Stella Fortuna grows up in a mountain village in early 20th-century Italy, suspected of being cursed and castigated by her father for not bending to patriarchal expectations. The family immigrates to America before World War II, and Stella continues protecting not-as-sharp little sister Tina, with their estrangement in old age framing the narrative. With a 200,000-copy first printing and a seven-city tour.

        Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 1, 2019
        Her many near-fatal mishaps aren't as deadly as marriage and motherhood for a fiercely independent Italian-American woman in this century-spanning novel.We know from the scene-setting preface that Mariastella Fortuna's "eighth almost-death" led to a mysterious hatred for her formerly beloved younger sister, Tina. Debut author Grames, who based the novel largely on her own family's history, launches it in a stale magic-realist tone that soon gives way to a harder-edged and much more compelling look at women's lives in a patriarchal society. Born in Calabria in 1920, Stella is given the same name as a sister who died in childhood because her father, Antonio, refused to get a doctor. He heads for America three weeks after the second Stella's birth and comes home over the next decade only to impregnate his submissive wife, Assunta, three more times. During those years, young Stella's brushes with death convince her that the ghost of her dead namesake is trying to kill her, but that's not as frightening as the conviction of everyone around her that a woman's only value is as a wife and mother. Stella has seen enough during her brutal, domineering father's visits to be sure she never wants to marry. When, after a 10-year absence, Antonio unexpectedly arranges for his family to join him in America in 1939, readers will hope that Stella will find a freer life there. But the expectations for women in their close-knit Italian-American community in Hartford prove to be the same as in Calabria. The pace quickens and the mood darkens in the novel's final third as it enfolds an ever growing cast of relatives--with quick sketches of the character and destiny of each--and Antonio's actions grow increasingly monstrous. The rush of events muddies the narrative focus, and the purpose of the epilogue is equally fuzzy. However, a tender final glimpse of elderly Tina conveys once again the strength and hard-won pride of the Fortuna women.Messily executed, but the author's emotional commitment to her material makes it compelling.

        COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from March 11, 2019
        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.

subtitle
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1857
publisher
Ecco
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