An Italian Wife

( 5 )

Overview

From the best-selling author of The Obituary Writer, the stirring multigenerational story of an Italian-American family.An Italian Wife is the extraordinary story of Josephine Rimaldi—her joys, sorrows, and passions, spanning more than seven decades. The novel begins in turn-of-the-century Italy, when fourteen-year-old Josephine, sheltered and naive, is forced into an arranged marriage to a man she doesn't know or love who is about to depart for America, where she later joins him. Bound by tradition, Josephine ...

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An Italian Wife

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Overview

From the best-selling author of The Obituary Writer, the stirring multigenerational story of an Italian-American family.An Italian Wife is the extraordinary story of Josephine Rimaldi—her joys, sorrows, and passions, spanning more than seven decades. The novel begins in turn-of-the-century Italy, when fourteen-year-old Josephine, sheltered and naive, is forced into an arranged marriage to a man she doesn't know or love who is about to depart for America, where she later joins him. Bound by tradition, Josephine gives birth to seven children. The last, Valentina, is conceived in passion, born in secret, and given up for adoption.
Josephine spends the rest of her life searching for her lost child, keeping her secret even as her other children go off to war, get married, and make their own mistakes. Her son suffers in World War One. One daughter struggles to assimilate in the new world of the 1950s American suburbs, while another, stranded in England, grieves for a lover lost in World War Two. Her granddaughters experiment with the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll in the 1970s. Poignant, sensual, and deeply felt, An Italian Wife is a sweeping and evocative portrait of a family bound by love and heartbreak.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
06/16/2014
Hood (The Obituary Writer) crafts a stark tale of loss and longing with story of one woman’s life in Italy and America. Wed at 15 to an ambitious landowner 11 years her senior, Josephine Rimaldi emigrates to Rhode Island. Trapped in a loveless marriage, she takes comfort in what’s most familiar: too many children, iron-clad tradition, and a demanding church. The only passion Josephine finds is an affair that ends with an infant daughter given up for adoption, a loss that haunts both her and her lover. With heartbreaking regularity, each succeeding generation yearns for a better life but surrenders to disappointment: Josephine’s son Carmine, whose stint in WWII leaves him shell-shocked and adrift; widowed granddaughter Francie, who’s shunned by suburban wives and wooed by their husbands; the granddaughter that Josephine never knew, love-starved Penny, whose relationship with her mother, Martha, falls victim to an obsessive search for Josephine; and dreamer great-granddaughter Aida, who runs away from her family to a vague, unsettled future. On her 100th birthday, Josephine does not embrace the children and life she nurtured, but the “things we did not have, the love that broke our hearts, the child we lost…” (Sept.)
Wally Lamb
“I loved Ann Hood's An Italian Wife in the same way I loved Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge—and for the same reason. The interconnected stories that fan out from a central character—in this case, matriarch Josephine Rimaldi—illuminate important truths about the ways in which our families, our ancestry, and the era into which we're born shape who we become. An Italian Wife is a multi-generational masterpiece.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-17
A century in the life of an extended Italian-American family. Hood's collection of linked stories begins in a small Italian village with Josephine, just 14. Suddenly married by family arrangement to pig-nosed, portly Vincenzo Rimaldi, she suffers a rude wedding night, but when Vincenzo leaves for America, she reverts back to childhood for nine more years, running barefoot in the Campanian hills—until her husband sends for her ("Salute"). Vincenzo works in a mill, and Josephine, a toil-worn housewife in an Italian Rhode Island neighborhood, bears seven children. The last of these is Valentina, the product of an all-too-brief interlude with a blond iceman. Telling Vincenzo the baby died in the hospital, Josephine gives Valentina up for adoption but never stops searching for her ("The Summer of Ice"). Sex and sexual mores are a major throughline. Josephine's son Carmine, shellshocked in World War I, finds peace only by masturbating to memories of a young Russian war widow he met in Coney Island ("Coney Island Dreams"). Lovely Josephine and her daughter Elisabetta, who wants to be a scientist, are preyed upon by the handsome parish priest, Father Leone, who partially atones by doing favors for the family, such as arranging the above adoption ("War Prayers"). Grandchild Francesca is both repelled and charmed when the community sends their meager riches to Mussolini. Her ticket out of Little Italy could be a blond boy in a fast car ("Dear Mussolini"). Later, we see her, a World War II widow, striving for social acceptance in a mostly Protestant subdivision, which, paradoxically, she achieves only by becoming the neighborhood homewrecker ("Husbands"). In the '70s, great-grandchild Aida longs to lead a Rat Pack lifestyle in Las Vegas like her cousin Cammie ("Crooning with Dino") and later escapes to San Francisco ("The Boy on the Bus"). Spot-on pop-culture references telegraph time and place. A few stories are marred by overly gimmicky endings, but the last two, about missed connections, are freighted with pathos. A soulful and multilayered book from this accomplished author.
Christopher Castellani
“A big, full-hearted grazie to Ann Hood…. She has given us a feast of a story: impressive in its range, sumptuous in its evocations of love and loss, and deeply satisfying.”
Adriana Trigiani
“Glorious…Reading this novel was like taking a luscious train ride through the last century. …Full of surprise and wonder, the writing is at turns poetic and sensitive, then dynamic and wise. Ann Hood is a master craftsman. This resplendent novel is a grand crescendo in a pitch-perfect career.”
Caroline Leavitt
“Hood reinvents the family saga into something spellbindingly new and authentically alive…. Hood shows how love and history transform a family, fuel—and sometimes kill—their dreams, and connect them in ways they never might imagine. Sweeping, sensual, and downright astonishing.”
Jodi Picoult
“Is there anyone who can write about the connections between ordinary people as well as Ann Hood does?”
Library Journal
07/01/2014
Best-selling author Hood (The Obituary Writer) has written a multigenerational saga of an Italian American family. Readers meet eight-year-old Josephine, living in a small village in early 1900s Italy with her family. At this young age, Josephine is betrothed and then one week before she turns 14 she weds Vincenzo Rinaldo, who a few days later emigrates to America. Nine years later, he is able to send for Josephine, who finds America an odd place, quite unlike her native village. The years pass; seven children are born to the Rimaldis, but Josephine, who continues to feel like a stranger in a strange land, also is unsure about marriage, uncertain of her husband, and still somewhat confused by American life. VERDICT With each chapter a coming-of-age tale of an individual family member, Hood offers a poignant view of the turbulent 20th century. She successfully displays the connected, ordinary lives of her characters, whom readers will come to love, appreciate, and enjoy. This intricately woven, engrossing narrative will delight Hood's readers and attract fans of literary family sagas. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/14.]—Andrea Tarr, Corona P.L., CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393241662
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/2/2014
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 93,757
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Hood

Ann Hood is the author of works of fiction including the bestseller The Knitting Circle and The Obituary Writer, as well as a memoir, Comfort. She is also the editor of Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. The winner of two Pushcart prizes as well as Best American Food Writing, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing awards, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2015

    I read the first half of the book, hoping it would get better, b

    I read the first half of the book, hoping it would get better, but it never did. There was no character development or plot continuity. Boring, depressing, and not worth the time.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2014

    Disappointing

    Could have been a great family history but instead a series of short stories. Poor character development


    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2015

    I'll start with saying this book had something that had potentia

    I'll start with saying this book had something that had potential to be good. The book is essentially a book of short stories. The first one being about Josephine, a young woman from Italy in 1889 on her wedding day. She is about to enter an arranged marriage and will move to America after the wedding. The story appears alright until her mother talks to her about sex in the most uncomfortable way possible. There are dogs and inapproriate verbs such as "wiggle" involved. The first part of the book goes on to tell about her early life with her husband, living in America as an immigrant, and the birth of her seven children. You also get introduced to the first of many awkward sex scenes. Unfortunately, I think the author tries too hard to be erotic, and they all end up being as uncomfortable as the mother using dogs to educate her daughter about sex in the beginning. Most of Josephine's offsprings end up being annoyingly naive when it comes to sex and the opposite sex, including herself. I almost wish there was a camera filming me as a I listened to these sex scenes (I got through this book via audiobook). 




    The rest of the book tells a story from Josephine's children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren's point of view. This is the concept that could have potentially been good. I like the idea of hearing the stories of different generations starting with the member that moved to America at the turn of the century. I especially liked the story about her granddaughter who despised being Italian and did everything in her power to be "American". Her son on the other hand wanted to embrace being Italian. Sadly, there was nothing tying these stories together besides the fact that they were related to Josephine. The author also made no attempt to help you get to know the characters. It was really hard to understand anyone's motives. If I was the editor, I would of told the author to get rid of the stories about the son, grandson, the 15 year old great granddaughter, and the baby Josephine gave up at birth (which, by the way, was the biggest "what the hell is the point of this?" story) and call the book, "The Italian Wives." It would of at least given the book some kind of point. 




    To wrap up this clumsy book, she goes back to the point of view Josephine during her dying days. Instead of ending it with a sense of calm or happiness or anything a good book should make you feel, she rehashes events from the very beginning of the book that you have long forgotten and closed the book making you feel sad, kind of angry and like you just wasted your time. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2014

    I was very disappointed in this book; this is the first review I

    I was very disappointed in this book; this is the first review I've ever given to Barnes and Noble. After reading a few books by Ann Hood, which I liked very much, I looked forward to this new book. As another reviewer wrote, about poor character development, I agree and want to add 'poor characters' period!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2015

    No text was provided for this review.

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