Friday, January 15, 2021

Book Review: "The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany" by Lori Nelson Spielman

Lori Nelson Spielman's newest book, The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany, serves up a healthy dose of family drama and secrets set against a gorgeous Italian backdrop.

For more than 200 years, there has been a curse in the Fontana family: no second-born daughter has ever found lasting love. Emilia tries not to let the idea of a curse bother her—sure, she wouldn't mind a companion, but she loves working as a baker at her family’s Italian deli and bakery, her Brooklyn neighborhood, and her family (sort of). But her cousin Lucy is weighed down by the curse and desperately tries to find luck with any man who pays her even the slightest bit attention. (Even those who don't.)

Emilia is shocked when her long-estranged great-aunt Poppy invites her and Lucy on an all-expense-paid trip to Italy. Poppy says they must make it to the Ravello Cathedral on her 80th birthday, where she will meet her true love, and the Fontana Family curse will be lifted. (Not that Poppy believes in the curse, but...)

Their grandmother, who raised Emilia and her sister, has forbidden anyone in the family to have contact with Poppy, over something that happened years and years before. But traveling to Italy has always been a dream for Emilia, and the idea of the curse being lifted is too powerful to give up (particularly for Lucy), so they disobey Nonna and join Poppy for the trip.

Of course, there are many family secrets that have been kept hidden for years, secrets that threaten to topple them all. Both Emilia and Lucy realize that they will need to make changes within themselves if they have any chance of happiness, and that may mean standing up for themselves for once. But will Poppy meet her true love? Will the curse be lifted? Will Emilia speak her mind?

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany was a dramatic story, a story of love and loss and courage and family and secrets. I enjoyed the second half more than the first—I found most of the characters pretty frustrating for a while and I wished Emilia would stop being a doormat for everyone. But as Poppy shared her love story and the family secrets kept hidden, the beauty and emotion of the story overtook me.

Italy is a place I’ve not yet had the chance to travel to but Spielman’s imagery made me long for it. Hopefully I'll get there someday!!

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