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Publisher's Summary

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 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.

©2019 Juliet Grames (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Misogyny at its worst

Do not read this book if sexual violence triggers you. I hated this book because Stella is broken relentlessly over and over. I had hoped for an ending that validated her pain. But no, only pain. Is it realistic? Yes. Women trying to survive under violent men who abuse their bodies and souls is all too real,

76 people found this helpful

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Tough to be a woman

Ooof. This was a GREAT book. Tough to listen to, though. VERY TRIGGERING, friends. Be aware. There is rape, abuse, misogyny, and in general, casual cruelty. It’s so eye-opening though. Very much reminds me of “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanigahara. It’s a portrait of the life of a woman, an immigrant... a lot of things. The “deaths” are fascinating. The family journey is harrowing. A lot of it is heartbreaking.

Give it a read, if you’re so inclined.

27 people found this helpful

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Essentially tragedy porn with a poignant epilogue

This novel endeavors to peer into the inner world of a non-conformist woman who endures countless hardships and tragedies over the course of her life, which spans the majority of the 20th century. It falls short, lingering on the periphery of the protagonist's (and the many other female characters') actual depths and motivations above and beyond (and between) the episodes of brutal trauma repeatedly endured. An attempt to honor the survival of Stella and her sister and her mother, it falls short. The result is a romanticized but trite homage to "the endurance of the women". The epilogue comes closest to humanizing and giving depth to the characters and, like the meatballs, the result is fruit of Tina's intervening hand.

14 people found this helpful

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Loved this read!

Since I am of Italian descent this book hit home. So much of it typical of situations I grew up with. So relatable! So real! So much emotion. I highly recommend this read if you are Italian growing up in the 40's 50's or 60's.

5 people found this helpful

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Didn't want this book to end!

This story captured me from the first chapter. The narrator was superb!
I am American/Italian with 3/4 being Calabrese. Listening to this book, I was growing up right along side of Stella and Tina. It was rich in expression, history, heart and soul. At times it was hard to hear, but unfortunately, that's the way some Italian men are. (not the nasty part at the later part of the story) They can treat their woman as second class citizens.
Makes me treasure my Grandfather who came over from Calabria, all that much more. He was a gem.

4 people found this helpful

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Sad, depressing story very well told

Stella Fortuna’s story is depressing, perhaps because I see so much of her in women’s lives still today. Dreams of autonomy squelched by the will of others. I’m sad for her, also, because her early years so traumatized her that she was unable to find love when it was offered. She missed her major opportunity because of her own baggage.

3 people found this helpful

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A Wonderfully Written Story I’ll Never Recommend

I loved Lisa’s performance, and even more so the story that Juliet wrote. This story provides a heaping slice of Italian culture that I appreciate greatly, I just know it’s nothing my friends or family could handle. I hope to purchase a physical copy someday soon.

2 people found this helpful

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Enthralling!

What a memorable beautifully written novel, I just couldn't stop listening and finding excuses to get away from my family. The story transports you to the beautiful land of pre War Italy, where you can almost smell the ripe oranges and smell the mint bundles. I enjoyed every moment of this book!

2 people found this helpful

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One of my favorite books

This is one of my favorite books that I've read in a long, long time. It is a fantastic mix of magical realism, family saga, history, immigration, Italian culture, etc. I really loved it. In a nutshell, this is the story of a realistic and imperfect family with all of its secrets, struggles, and complications.

2 people found this helpful

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I want more! I was sad it ended!!

Absolutely loved this book...I was hooked from start to finish! It brought you into the Fortuna family and made you keep wanting more! I loved every minute of it!

2 people found this helpful