Sydney Anderson recently reviewed The Inheritance and interviewed Marianne Perry.
Praises for The Inheritance
“Like a classic star-crossed love story, the novel is written with lush detail enriched with both likable and loathsome characters. In particular, Perry builds strong and decisive female characters. Although the key action doesn’t occur until the final chapters, Perry’s exquisite descriptions will transport readers back to the time and place of Lorenzo and Caterina’s romance-the brilliant colors in villa gardens, the smells and tastes of decadent food, and the menacing sounds of the ocean during an earthquake. After the engrossing storylines come to an abrupt end, a cliff-hanger will leave readers anxious for a sequel to continue Lorenzo and Caterina’s tragic story. Solid characters and vivid imagery capture the mood, traditions and uncertainty of the time.” – Kirkus Reviews, December 7, 2012
“The premise for The Inheritance was inspired by the author’s genealogical research in Calabria, Italy. Marianne Perry’s research trip to Cosenza province is obvious in her vivid descriptions of the setting of “The Inheritance”. The landscape, colours, culture, native food, plants and flowers, and even the weather are all vibrantly described……Perry deftly weaves secrets and betrayals throughout the entire book, not only among the two families but the supporting characters, as well….Marianne Perry weaves a very vivid tale that might well have happened hundreds of times over the centuries. “The Inheritance” will definitely make you think about how our ancestors came to be aboard a transatlantic vessel for a perilous three week voyage to being a new life.” – Amanda Morehouse, The Ontario-Canada Genealogical Society, August 2014
Author Marianne Perry has written a devastatingly heart wrenching story in her novel The Inheritance. Set with the back drop of Italy, this story discusses the themes of power, hatred, hurt, betrayal, happiness, and love. The many characters in this novel will tear at your heart strings as you discover the many different relationships of them in the story, some beautiful and some complicated. From page one, readers will be drawn into the experiences and emotions of the characters in this Italian historical fiction novel. I would recommend this novel to readers that enjoy historical fiction, as well as Italy and its culture.
1. How did you get started as an author?
As a girl, I dreamt of being a travel writer for The National Geographic Magazine. My parents took us to the library every Saturday and when a teen, I read historical fiction by Taylor Caldwell and Irving Stone. My high school English teacher encouraged my writing and I majored in English and Dramatic Arts at university. I am retired from a thirty year career during which I held various positions in education, communications and public relations. I’ve also written policy documents, speeches, local television commercials, scripts for radio shows and community events, newsletters and career advice columns. In addition, I served as project director and primary writer for a commemorative art book published in honour of our city’s Homecoming Celebration. Over the past five years, I’ve launched a website, written regular blogs on genealogy, travel and writing, had genealogical articles published in North American magazines and journals plus written The Inheritance.
2. What writing projects are you currently working on?
In May 2013, I returned to Calabria, southern Italy for an extensive two week research trip geared to future projects. The novel I am currently writing is set in Italy; Switzerland and South America are secondary locations and countries I have also explored. The period is modern and the protagonist a woman of Italian ancestry who inherits a century old deed to property in Calabria under strange circumstances. She travels to Calabria to solve its mystery but forces thwart her along the way. My third book will be a sequel to The Inheritance. In addition, I continue to publish non-fiction genealogical articles for North American magazines and professional journals.
3. What does your writing process look like?
I value authenticity as an author and set my stories in places I have explored. Research and travel, therefore, are integral to my writing. With respect to The Inheritance, journeying through Calabria, southern Italy familiarized me with the region and, in particular, helped me pen vivid descriptive passages. The story unfolds from 1897 to 1913 and to recreate the era, I studied the history and social customs of the time, scoured genealogical documents to develop characters and thread their lives with real events plus referenced an antique map to validate locales. The Villa San Michele is a real turn of the century villa and I stayed there while visiting Cetraro, Calabria, a fishing village central to The Inheritance.
4. Where is your favourite place to write?
I have a den dedicated to writing and genealogical research with windows fronting Lake Superior in our Northern Ontario, Canada country home. I believe in positive energy and every item in the room honours family, cherished mementos and treasured books. I have travelled to the seven continents and there is a map of the world on the wall on which I record places I have visited.
The photograph shows me feeding Priscilla, a nine-month old rescued Dromedary camel at a farm in Uluru, Australia this past winter. To commemorate this marvellous experience, I purchased a miniscule camel figurine at the farm, which I’ve since displayed in my den.
5. How important are the names in your novels? How do you choose names for your characters?
The Inheritance is set in Calabria, southern Italy from 1897 to 1913.Names help create authenticity and I reviewed Italian genealogical documents to determine those appropriate for this era. Ship manifests identifying passengers who journeyed from Naples, Italy to Ellis Island, New York plus birth, marriage and death records were particularly valuable sources. As a result of my efforts, I chose Mafalda, Fortunata and Armida for minor characters. St. Catherine of Siena is a joint Patron Saint of Italy along with Saint Francis of Assisi. The name is a perennial favourite in Italian families plus has personal significance for it honours my late paternal grandmother, Nana Caterina and Catherine Rose Perry, an older sister who died in infancy.
This is a photograph of my late grandparents, Nana Caterina and Nonno Pietro Perri (Perry) taken September 21, 1915 on their wedding day that I inherited from my late father, Arnold Joseph Perry.
6. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
Travel provides opportunity to learn about the world and my adventures influence my reading. Given my trip to the Northern Territory, Australia this past winter, I’ve read two books by Australian authors to deepen my understanding about the country. For those with a similar interest, I’d recommend The Waddi Tree by Kerry McGinnis and Tracks by Robyn Davidson. Venice, Italy is a favoured city and I enjoy Donna Leon’s crime fiction featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. Visiting bookstores is on my travel itinerary and when I was in Reykjavik, Iceland this past summer, I purchased Silence of the Grave, a murder mystery by Icelandic author, Arnaldur Indridason. Other authors I enjoy include: Adriana Trigiani, Susan Vreeland, Tracy Chevalier, Ken Follett, Anne Perryand John Grisham.
7. What inspired the idea for The Inheritance?
Family mysteries intrigue me and I’ve been researching ancestral history for about twenty years. I wanted to understand why my paternal grandmother, Nana Caterina left Calabria, southern Italy in 1913 as a young woman; sailed on a steamship across the Atlantic Ocean; landed at Ellis Island, New York; settled in Canada and never returned to her homeland. Our large family knew scant about Nana’s early life so I started genealogical research to investigate her history, which eventually inspired The Inheritance.
8. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
Travel and photography. I have explored the seven continents and this past summer, travelled to Iceland. On every trip, I’ve maintained a journal and taken photographs, which I compile into reference albums for my fiction and non-fiction writing projects. I took the photograph of the crumbling stone cottage on the cover of The Inheritance on a research trip to Calabria, Italy. The image is intrinsic to the story plus reflects the authenticity I value as a writer.
I snapped this photograph of a Gentoo Penguin at a rookery on Pleneau Island, Antarctica in February 2014. It seemed as if the little fellow were posing for me.