I spent most of last week on the couch with a nasty cold, and an unfortunate side effect was that I couldn’t seem to concentrate on a book for more than 20 minutes at a time! But after 9 days of shuffling this book from my bedside table to the lounge room, I did eventually finish it.
When I tell you Stella Fortuna was a special girl, I hope you aren’t thinking small-town special. Other people would underestimate Stella Fortuna during her long life, and not one of them didn’t end up regretting it.
Hundred-year-old Stella Fortuna sits alone in her house in Wethersfield, Connecticut, crocheting blankets and angrily ignoring her sister, Tina, who lives across the street. Born into abject poverty in an Italian village, Stella Fortuna’s name might mean Lucky Star, but for the last century, her life has been defined by all the times she might have died. Up until now, Stella’s close bond with her sister has been one of the few things to survive her tumultuous life, but something has happened, and nobody can understand what it might be. Does the one life and many (near) deaths of Stella Fortuna have secrets still to be revealed, even to those who believe they are closest to her?
Blurb from Book Depository.
It’s hard to put my finger on just how I feel about this read, and I think it’s a story that will have a very different impact on people depending on your upbringing, culture, and family. Though the story interested me, and the characterisation was great, it took me a long time to get through and I felt the pacing was a little off – just enough for me to not want to devour it in a few sittings.
The premise of the book was unique, and there is a lot of context & storytelling in between Stella’s “deaths” which draw you in to the Fortuna family and feel connected to many of the characters. Be warned, some of the deaths are fairly graphic (okay, maybe I just have a weak stomach), but others felt like they happened fairly quickly and then the story moved on (other than the obvious ‘debatable’ death – no spoilers as they mention it very early on…and it’s literally in the title guys.)
I did love a lot of the central women in this story, Stella with her fierce no-nonsense approach to things, Tina with her caring heart, and Assunta’s delicate balance of emotion and action gave them a special place in my heart. As the story wore on though, I grew a bit tired of Stella as the central character, and would have liked to hear a little bit more of the other characters and relationships – maybe that’s a big ask though given this is, after all, Stella’s story.
Finally, the ending. Obviously I can’t give anything away here (put down the pitchforks) but I will say that it felt a little bit rushed, and with the wide cast of characters this story covers due to the wide-reaching Italian family tree, it almost felt like I was watching the end of a documentary where it gives you two ‘where are they now’ style sentences on each person. Maybe that’s just me though, because I have read a lot of mini-reviews & Instagram captions from people who were enthralled by this read start to finish.
Maybe read it and see how you feel! Like I said, something tells me this is a read that will be a unique experience for everyone who reads it.
Page Length: 434
Publisher: Hodder & Staughton (Hachette Imprint)
What books have you read lately that left you feeling unsure how much you liked them? I know I liked this book, I’m just not sure I had the same pull to it as others have had!
If you’ve read it too, I’d love to hear what you thought!