Book Review of The Inheritance

Genealogical research to solve family mysteries has interested me for almost two decades. In addition to developing a family tree, I have published non-fiction articles in genealogical magazines, penned blogs to help others with their projects plus travelled to Calabria, southern Italy twice for research purposes. I am also a member of The Ontario Genealogy Society and the following is their review of my historical fiction, The Inheritance. The story was inspired by genealogical research to learn more about my grandmother's early life in 1900 Italy. For a sample free first chapter, visit my website:
Thank you.

The following review was printed in The Ontario Genealogy Society publication Families vol 54 no 3 August 2014.

The premise for The Inheritance was inspired by the author’s genealogical research in Calabria, Italy. Marianne Perry’s research trip to Cosenza province is obvious in her vivid descriptions of the settings of “The Inheritance”. The landscape, colours, culture, native food, plants and flowers, and even the weather are all vibrantly described.

However, this is a work of fiction, and is not a reference book. “The Inheritance” is a lovely story set amidst the colourful backdrop of turn of the 20th century Italy. The story is based loosely on her grandmother, Maria Caterina Spagnuolo Andreoli, who was born in Cosenza province, Italy, in 1889, and emigrated by herself to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario via Ellis Island in January 1913.

Caterina is an orphaned servant girl who is raised almost as a daughter by Anna Marino, the Signora of the San Michelle Estate in Cetraro, Italy, who has three sons of her own. With Anna’s help and the local priest’s teaching, Caterina learns to read and write and use her wits. The love story sets into motion the tale of how Caterina came to be aboard the Carpathia by herself.

What family history would be complete without a skeleton or two in the closet? Perry deftly weaves secrets and betrays throughout the entire book, not only among the two families but the supporting characters, as well. One has to think that it is Caterina’s survival instinct that will allow her to survive, not only on a solo transatlantic journey, but also in a strange country with a strange language. How many times did this play out on our shores over the centuries? This reviewer’s own great-grandmother arrived on Ellis Island in 1906 from Poland without knowing any English.

As someone who has researched many ancestors who left the homeland to begin a new life in Canada, this reviewer has often wondered why that person of family decided to leave their home. Were they going toward a better future? Were they fleeing an unhappy situation? What was their motivation to give up everything and everyone to start all over in a different country so far away? We may never know. Marianne Perry weaves a very vivid tale that might well have happened hundreds of times over the centuries. “The Inheritance” will definitely make you think about how our ancestors came to be aboard a transatlantic vessel for a perilous three week voyage to begin a new life.

Amanda Morehouse. (London, Ontario)

Marianne Perry
Author of The Inheritance
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Published on September 18, 2014 14:19 Tags: family-mysteries, genealogy, italy
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