The Inheritance – A Book Review

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The Inheritance by Marianne Perry[1]

Marianne Perry has successfully written a wonderful book set in my favorite place, Italy. This story of love and betrayal follows the Marino Family during the early 1900’s when lines were clearly drawn in Italian society between the wealthy and powerful, and the servants and the laborers. It’s the story of good versus evil : the goodness of Anna Marino, the matriarch of the family, with her beautiful eyes which revealed her kindness towards all those who knew her; and the evil and cold heart of her husband, Santo, who sold his soul to that devil called organized crime.  Power was all consuming to him and the ultimate means to an end.  He didn’t care who he betrayed, killed or harmed if it was to his benefit.  Lorenzo, their son, inherited his mother’s kind eyes and that same good heart. He was an artist and looked at the world through different eyes.  His mother was the only one who encouraged him to follow his passions and from her he learned to love, even if it meant he would love someone that his father disapproved of.  Unfortunately, his brothers followed in their father’s footsteps and ultimately would make life unbearable for Lorenzo

The storyline was great and kept me enthralled throughout.  This could have been a GREAT book except for a few distractions that got in the way.  My first criticism was the over abundance of characters – there were way too many presented to keep them all straight and to remember how they all related to each other.  Many were irrelevant and only created a distraction to the real story. In fact, at times, I couldn’t remember who a certain character was after they became important because they had been originally presented quickly and without much more than just their name.  The other distraction was the incorrect use of Italian.  In my humble opinion, if the author was going to use Italian to give her story more depth and credibility, perhaps it would have been best to consult someone proficient in Italian and who would guide her in using the correct words.  It was almost as if she used google translate for the translations (and we all know what happens when we rely solely on that….)  It may have been safer to leave out those Italian words altogether – the book would have been just as good!

Despite these small criticisms, the author had a good story to tell and she made this time in Italy’s past come alive.  We were able to feel the pain, hardship, and passions of the main characters and their lives.  I would highly recommend this book, even knowing that some real Italophiles may flinch at the incorrect use of those Italian words!

Here is an interesting interview with Marianne Perry, the author of The Inheritance –

and I’ll be looking forward to her new books!

Why did you write The Inheritance?

Family mysteries intrigue me. I wanted to understand why my paternal grandmother, Nana Caterina left Calabria, southern Italy in 1913 as a young woman; sailed on a steamship across the Atlantic Ocean; landed at Ellis Island, New York; settled in Canada and never returned to her homeland. Our large family knew scant about Nana’s early life so I started genealogical research to investigate her history, which eventually inspired The Inheritance.

Why did you select “Caterina” as the protagonist’s name?

The Inheritance is set in Calabria, southern Italy from 1897 to 1913.Names help create authenticity and I reviewed Italian genealogical documents to determine those appropriate for this era. As a result, I chose Mafalda, Fortunata and Armida for minor characters. St. Catherine of Siena is a joint Patron Saint of Italy along with Saint Francis of Assisi. The name is a perennial favourite in Italian families plus honours my late Nana Caterina and Catherine Rose, an older sister who died in infancy.

Tell me about the cameo brooch Caterina inherits.

My mother has long suffered from dementia and I cherish a cameo brooch that I inherited from her. It belonged to her Sicilian-born father but she knows nothing about its origin. The clasp is broken and the brooch, fragile. I have long been haunted by the milky carving of the elegant lady depicted and it seemed the perfect gift to symbolize the ailing Anna Marino’s quasi-maternal affection for Caterina.

What is the significance of the crumbling stone cottage on the cover of The Inheritance?

In order to research The Inheritance, I traveled to Calabria in 2004 where I snapped this photograph. The crumbling stone cottage was located in the mountains near my Nana Caterina’s ancestral village. It typified the poverty of my grandmother’s family and is intrinsic to Caterina’s life as a peasant in this novel. I value authenticity as a writer and felt a personal photograph would illustrate this to the reader.

Will your next book be set in Italy?

Yes. To date, I have traveled to Italy seven times. In May 2013, I returned to Calabria for an intensive two week genealogical and writing research trip geared to my next book. It will be set in Calabria with chapters in Rome and Zurich, Switzerland. The time period is modern and the protagonist a Canadian woman of Italian ancestry who inherits a century old deed to property in Calabria plus a holograph will from her deceased godfather under strange circumstances. She travels to Calabria to solve their mysteries but forces attempt to thwart her along the way. My third book will be a sequel to The Inheritance.

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