The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel By Juliet Grames

Jul 26, 2019 224

Ecco is thrilled to publish Juliet Grames’ entrancing, immersive debut THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA (Ecco; On-sale May 7, 2019: ISBN: 9780062862822), a novel about an Italian family as told through the lens of their extremely unlucky matriarch.

Within the pages of THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA are hints of the magic of Isabel Allende and the Italian setting and themes of Elena Ferrante, and Grames’ impressive story will mesmerize fans of family epics from Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko to Jeffery Eugenides’s Middlesex

Grames grew up in a tight-knit Italian family, listening to stories since she was a young girl about her grandmother’s infamous accident after which she’d stopped speaking to the sister with whom she’d been the best of friends with since childhood. For Grames, writing THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA was a chance to explore her rich Calabrian family lore, make sense of the truths, and use fiction as a way to seek her own personal truths as she came to terms with her family history. “I wanted to restore dignity to the fascinating and misunderstood legacy that is my late grandmother’s,” Grames says. “Through sinking myself into research, I learned the textures and truths of the place and time where my grandmother was born, the mythologies of the world she grew up in. By writing the novel, I was able to trick myself into thinking I’d relived my grandmother’s experience—that I’d somehow reached her. Instead, I’d created Stella.”

For Stella Fortuna, death has always been a part of life. Stella’s childhood is full of strange, life-threatening incidents—moments where ordinary situations like cooking eggplant or feeding the pigs inexplicably take lethal turns. Even Stella’s own mother is convinced that her daughter is cursed or haunted. In her rugged Italian village, Stella is considered an oddity—beautiful and smart, insolent and cold. Stella uses her peculiar toughness to protect her slower, plainer baby sister Tina from life’s harshest realities. But she also provokes the ire of her father Antonio: a man who demands subservience from women and whose greatest gift to his family is his absence.

When the Fortunas emigrate to America on the cusp of World War II, Stella and Tina must come of age side-by-side in a hostile new world with strict expectations for each of them. Soon Stella learns that her survival is worthless without the one thing her family will deny her at any cost: her independence.

In present-day Connecticut, one family member tells this heartrending story, determined to understand the persisting rift between the now-elderly Stella and Tina.

A richly told debut, THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA is a tale of family transgressions as ancient and twisted as the olive branch that could heal them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Juliet Grames was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up in a tight-knit Italian-American family. A book editor, she has spent the last decade at Soho Press, where she is Associate Publisher and curator of the Soho Crime imprint. This is her first novel.

“The author’s grandmother inspired this meaty family saga set in Calabria and Connecticut, crossing two centuries and five generations… In conjuring this absorbing life, Grames has created a satisfying doorstop of a book, rich in detail, tightly written and delightfully easy to get lost in.”The New York Times

“[A] vivid and moving debut... Sharp and richly satisfying.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Magically real… Achieves what no sweeping history lesson about American immigrants could: It brings to life a woman that time and history would have ignored.”Washington Post

THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA: A Novel By Juliet Grames. Ecco Publication Date: May 7, 2019. Price: $27.99; Hardcover; 464 pages; ISBN: 9780062862822 Please visit: www.eccobooks.com

HarperCollins’ Summer 2019 *LEAD READ*

May 2019 IndieNext Pick

A Summer 2019 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by: *Library Journal* *Buzzfeed* *Vulture* *The Rumpus* *Observer*

 

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