The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna – Juliet Grames

If Stella Fortuna means ‘lucky star,’ then life must have a funny sense of humour.

Everybody in the Fortuna family knows the story of how the beautiful, fiercely independent Stella, who refused to learn to cook and who swore she would never marry, has escaped death time and time again.

From her childhood in Italy, to her adulthood in America, death has seemed to pursue Stella. She has been burned, eviscerated and bludgeoned; she has choked, nearly fallen out of a window, and on one occasion, her life was only saved by a typo.

However, even the best-known stories still have secrets to reveal . . . and even after a century, Stella’s is no exception.

No woman survives seven or eight deaths without a reason. So, how did she? In a tale which spans nine decades, two continents, and one family’s darkest, deepest-buried truths, the answer awaits. .

About the Author:

Juliet Grames was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up in a tight-knit Italian-American family. She attended Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in history from Columbia College. For the last fifteen years she has worked in book publishing, and is currently Associate Publisher at Soho Press in New York, where she edits literary fiction, crime fiction, and literature in translation.

My Review:

The book begins:

This is the story of Mariastella Fortuna the Second, called Stella, formerly of Ievoli, a mountain village of Calabria, Italy, and lately of Connecticut, in the United States of America. Her life stretched over more than a century, and during that life she endured much bad luck and hardship. This is the story how she never died.

Over the course of her hundred years, the second Stella Fortuna (I will tell you about the first in a little bit) would survive eight near-death experiences – or seven, depending on how you count them.  She would be bludgeoned and concussed, she would asphyxiate, she would haemorrhage, and she would be lobotomised.  She would be partially submerged in boiling oil, be split from belly to bowel on two unrelated occasions, and on a different day have her life saved only by a typo.  Once she would almost accidentally commit suicide.

OK, so where and how do I begin to review this EPIC family drama?  It’s quite a big book!  It spans 100 years.  It’s set between a tiny remote Italian village in the Mountains and America.  It’s a mixture of historical fiction and a contemporary family drama.  It’s beautifully written and those who love a sweeping story will adore it.

This is a huge step away from my usual fast paced thrillers and therefore it took me several days to read, which for me is a long time and whilst I found the historical content fascinating and the writing style beautiful, at times the story dragged for me, but I believe that’s my issue and not the book or the author.


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