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This book tells the story of Nella Castalluca, starting in the 1920s, with her childhood on the family farm in Delabole, where she lives with her parents and four sisters.  Nella harbours dreams of going to school in the nearby town of Roseto, and eventually becoming a teacher.  She does go to the school and at the same time, falls in love with beautiful local boy Renato Lanzara.  However, events conspire against Nella, and she has to go back to work on her parents farm.  She finds herself on the path to a life she never expected, but through it all she retains her feistiness and intelligence.  Along the way, she learns valuable lessons about herself, and what she wants from life.

I’m a big fan of Adriana Trigiani’s ‘Big Stone Gap’ series, and was really looking forward to reading this book.  It didn’t disappoint.  Yet again, the author has created a wonderful cast of characters, who are entirely believeable and easy to care about.  Nella herself is a wonderful main character, full of drive and wit, but with human flaws and idiosyncracies.  I loved the descriptions of Roseto – a town created in Pennsylvania by Italian immigrants, and built to resemble the town of Roseto in Italy.  The community spirit amongst the Italian populated area seems to jump off the pages, creating a warm and comforting read.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all of the characters, especially Nella herself, her parents and sisters and Franco Zollerano.

I really liked the fact that although this is story which encapsulates love, family, community and friendship, it also describes the grief and tragedy that can happen in a lifetime, and some of the sadder moments of Nella’s life which happened surprised me as I had simply not seen them coming.

The writing flows easily, and I felt like I wanted to sit down and greedily gobble this book up in one sitting!  Highly recommended!

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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