Laura Fabini recently reviewed The Inheritance.
Italian historical fiction novels are my favorite genre, reminding me so much of the stories my grandmothers and aunts used to tell me. When I picked up The Inheritance, I quickly became immersed in the lives of Anna Marino, the kind wife of Santo, a business man whose wealth and connections made him brutally powerful, and vivacious Caterina Romano, the daughter of Anna’s servant.
I was glued to the pages and would have read the book in one sitting if I didn’t have work and family obligations. The author deftly wrote a tale that was compelling and heartbreaking. She developed her characters so well that one easily felt strong emotions toward them whether it was contempt or compassion. The village life too was brought to life with secondary characters that supported the role of the main ones and helped us to understand them. How could one not love Bruno, the cook? Food is such a big part of the Italian culture and his character showed the strength of food in connecting people.
Anna, Caterina, Lorenzo and Padre Valentine propelled the story forward and although one got the sense of impending doom, hope was always foremost in these characters. Both Anna and Caterina are strong female characters but they suffered from male dominance and social restraints. Nevertheless, there were little victories in their lives that I applauded. The ending was bittersweet and left me wanting more. One could easily see a sequel in the works. I was hoping for redemption for one of the characters but it fell short.
The setting of a small town in Calabria was vividly portrayed. The rigid class system was manifested in the lifestyle and ways of thinking. The hard life of the peasants clearly helped us understand why many emigrated from there to North America in search of a better life.
There was only one distraction for me as I read this well-written novel, and that was the misspelling and wrong verb tenses of the Italian words used throughout the text. For those not fluent in Italian, this won’t matter at all. The story was so immersive for me that I was able to skip over these words replacing them with the correct ones as I read.
Apart from this, I will consider this novel one of my best reads for 2015. When a story has me thinking about it long after I read it, I know it has touched me deeply. This one can be considered an historical literary fiction, and I look forward to reading more of this talented author’s works.