Tuesday, June 16, 2015
An Italian Wife
by Ann Hood
$12.99 Kindle version
"An Italian Wife is the extraordinary story of Josephine Rimaldi―her joys, sorrows, and passions, spanning more than seven decades. The novel begins in turn-of-the-century Italy, when fourteen-year-old Josephine, sheltered and naive, is forced into an arranged marriage to a man she doesn't know or love who is about to depart for America, where she later joins him. Bound by tradition, Josephine gives birth to seven children. The last, Valentina, is conceived in passion, born in secret, and given up for adoption.
Josephine spends the rest of her life searching for her lost child, keeping her secret even as her other children go off to war, get married, and make their own mistakes. Her son suffers in World War One. One daughter struggles to assimilate in the new world of the 1950s American suburbs, while another, stranded in England, grieves for a lover lost in World War Two. Her granddaughters experiment with the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll in the 1970s. Poignant, sensual, and deeply felt, An Italian Wife is a sweeping and evocative portrait of a family bound by love and heartbreak."
An Italian Wife is similar to historical fiction, with bits and pieces of what was happening in the world (ex: wars) trickling into the story because of the impact world events have on the various relationships. I loved the multiple POVs and they way they overlap storylines.
The family tree at the beginning of the book helped me keep track of everyone; I enjoyed how the story spans several generations. The book was divided into parts. The first part introduces readers to Josephine, the matriarch of the family in this novel, later to be called Mama Jo. Not only does her life have unexpected turns, but nothing turns out as planned for her children, especially the lives of her grandchildren. Of all them, Penelope reminds me the most of Josephine.
The title could apply to more than one woman in the family. None of the family members seemed happy with their relationships - always longing to be with someone else and/or BE someone else, but the ending was beautiful.