Summary (from Goodreads):
“From the best-selling author of The Obituary Writer, the stirring multigenerational story of an Italian-American family.
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 I. 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 II. 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.”
I’m a huge Ann Hood fan and have been since I read The Knitting Circle. All of her books are far deeper than they appear to be at first glance and this one is no exception.
While the synopsis implies that the whole book is from Josephine’s perspective, each chapter tells a different character’s story. While I missed Josephine at first, I ended up liking all of the characters and the pieces they told of the family’s history.
It’s fascinating to see how the world changes and to have it told from one family’s perspective (and one person at a time). The things that would be pretty much literally unheard of in Josephine’s chapter because not only no big deal but actually commonplace in her granddaughter’s chapter.
I loved this story and can’t wait to read whatever Ann Hood does next.