Please join us for an author talk with Juliet Grames, presented by Dante Society of Westerly!
"Reclaiming the Legacy of Our Italian Grandmothers”
Juliet Grames will discuss her prizewinning novel, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, the story of a Calabrian family that emigrates to New England in the harsh years between the World Wars, and the novel's nonfiction inspirations in the immigrant stories of her southern Italian grandparents.
About the Book
“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
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.
About the Author
Juliet Grames was born into a tight-knit Italian-American family in Hartford, Connecticut, and settled in the Westerly area in 2018. She is the author of the national and international bestseller The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna (Ecco/HarperCollins), which has been translated into languages and received Italy's Premio Cetraro for Contributions to Southern Italian Literature, and the forthcoming The Lost Boy of Santa Chionia (Knopf, July 2024). She studied history at the University of Oxford and graduated magna cum laude from Columbia before embarking on a career in book publishing. She is SVP, Editorial Director at Soho Press.
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