The Inheritance – Book Reviews
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From birth, Lorenzo and Caterina were destined to be together. Although Lorenzo is the son of a wealthy businessman and Caterina was born into a family of servants, Anna, Lorenzo’s angelic and sensitive mother, raises the two children in their idyllic villa on the Italian seaside. With help from a colorful cast of characters, including a priest with a dark past and a lively chef, Anna nurtures Lorenzo’s artistic side and educates Caterina on subjects she wouldn’t ordinarily learn about as a servant. Cleverly using Lorenzo’s artistic endeavors to describe the scenery, Perry subtly paints a peaceful yet foreboding setting. After Anna suffers a devastating stroke, Lorenzo’s father and brothers decide it’s time to force him into the family’s nefarious business affairs, thus ending his romance with Caterina in exchange for someone more suitable. As the world crumbles around Lorenzo and Caterina, they devise ill-fated plans to be with each other and keep their loosely constructed family together despite the odds stacking against them. 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
Ontario Genealogical Society – Families
The following passage was printed in Families vol 54 no 3 August 2014 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 settings of “The Inheritance”. The landscape, colours, culture, native food, plants and flowers, and even the weather are all vibrantly described.
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However, this is a work of fiction, and is not a reference book. “The Inheritance” is a lovely story set amidst the colourful backdrop of turn of the 20th century Italy. The story is based loosely on her grandmother, Maria Caterina Spagnuolo Andreoli, who was born in Cosenza province, Italy, in 1889, and emigrated by herself to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario via Ellis Island in January 1913. Caterina is an orphaned servant girl who is raised almost as a daughter by Anna Marino, the Signora of the San Michelle Estate in Cetraro, Italy, who has three sons of her own. With Anna’s help and the local priest’s teaching, Caterina learns to read and write and use her wits. The love story sets into motion the tale of how Caterina came to be aboard the Carpathia by herself. What family history would be complete without a skeleton or two in the closet? Perry deftly weaves secrets and betrays throughout the entire book, not only among the two families but the supporting characters, as well. One has to think that it is Caterina’s survival instinct that will allow her to survive, not only on a solo transatlantic journey, but also in a strange country with a strange language. How many times did this play out on our shores over the centuries? This reviewer’s own great-grandmother arrived on Ellis Island in 1906 from Poland without knowing any English. As someone who has researched many ancestors who left the homeland to begin a new life in Canada, this reviewer has often wondered why that person of family decided to leave their home. Were they going toward a better future? Were they fleeing an unhappy situation? What was their motivation to give up everything and everyone to start all over in a different country so far away? We may never know. 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 begin a new life.
Amanda Morehouse London, ON