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The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,043 ratings  ·  420 reviews
In this stunning debut novel, a young woman tells the story behind two elderly sisters’ estrangement, unraveling family secrets stretching back a century and across the Atlantic to early 20th century Italy
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
Paperback, 464 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Ecco Press
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4.01  · 
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 ·  2,043 ratings  ·  420 reviews

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Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Both Stella Fortuna and her sister Tina are alive today and this fictionalized account is written by a family member. It’s really Stella’s story and it spans one hundred years. As you might imagine, a lot happens. It begins in a remote mountain village in Cambria, Italy and ends in Connecticut. So this is an immigrant story about a family and what a family it is. It’s a tale about surviving numerous brushes with death as well as poverty both in Italy and the USA. It’s also about the bond between ...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic read- from start to finish.

It reminded me a lot of Marquez's A Hundred Years of Solitude from time to time although the magical realism in this one wasn't as dominant.

This is the story of an Italian American immigrant family through the character Stella Fortuna and her encounters with danger nearly resulting with her death. Starts from a small Italian village in mountains, where Fortuna's struggle to make ends, a poor life in village. Then fate takes them to America in it's

Many thanks to Ecco for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

She’d been named after her grandmother, which was proper but still; “Stella” and “Fortuna” - “Star luck” or maybe even “lucky star” - what a terrifying thing to call a little girl. There’s no better way to bring down the Evil Eye than to brag about your good fortune; a name like Stella Fortuna was just asking for trouble. And whether or not you believe in the Evil Eye, you have to admit Stella had plenty of trouble.

I d
Umut Reviews
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm afraid this book disappointed me for some reasons. The opening was very interesting, intriguing, but I was quickly let down afterwards.
I guess there's a trend with 'Seven's somehow because there are a few books out there with similar titles. It's probably aiming to utilise the hype around Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, or Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Also, the near death experiences was the core of a memoir written by Maggie O'Farrell's beautiful "I Am I Am I Am." So, I'm a little con
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars

"This is the story of Mariastella Fortuna the Second, called Stella, formerly of Ievoli, a mountain village of Calabria, Italy, and lately of Connecticut, in the United States of America. Her life stretched over more than a century, and during that life she endured much bad luck and hardship. This is the story how she never died."

After reading the opening paragraph which gives you a pretty good idea of what the book is about, I knew I would enjoy this book. And I
Liz Barnsley
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh this book. I’m not even sure where to start…

I had some doubt when I picked it up to start reading, epic family drama not being in my immediate comfort zone – then an hour later I’d devoured multiple chapters only emerging when my alarm went off for work. That’s how it gets you…

The scene setting is intensely immersive, from the small Italian village to the wider sprawl of America, Juliet Grames descriptive prose puts you right at the heart of the story, it opens up around you with breathtaking
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Stella was the second child of Assunta and Antonio Fortuna and the second Stella because the first Mariastella died from influenza when she was an infant.

Assunta had a difficult life and a cruel husband. He was not nice to her, would leave for months at a time and not send her money, but she survived and did everything herself and took care of her children. Assunta didn't have a happy life except for her children.

THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA tells the tale of the lives of the aut
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I, like many other readers, often crave something refreshingly original to immerse myself in but discovering it with enticing synopsis and then finding it beautifully executed happens incredibly rarely. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, Ms Grames debut novel, right from the get-go had my undivided attention, and the further I read the greater the impossibility of being able to put it down became; it was then that I knew this was a single sitting page-turner and that sleep would have t ...more
It's brilliantly told in the language sense. And also for the "eyes" cognition of the narrator.

BUT- it's too long and it also invests the author's present day sensibilities and values into the whole, most specifically during the last quarter of the book. So much so that the end was occluded- almost pathetically sad. And it didn't need to be.

Until the last 100 pages I would have given it a full 4. At the 2/3rds point I would have given it 4.5 in total or maybe even a 5 star. It's true to the cu
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
"Family memory is a tricky thing; we repeat some stories to ourselves until we are bored of them, while others inexplicably fall away. Or maybe not inexplicably; maybe some stories, if remembered, would fit too uncomfortably into the present family narrative." *

The second Mariastella Fortuna, known as Stella, is shadowed by death her entire life.  In fact, she's almost died seven times. Or maybe eight; there's one time the family isn't sure counts since they didn't know until long after the fact
Evie Braithwaite
I thought the premise of this book was so intriguing; a family saga about life in an Italian-American immigrant family. It follows Stella Fortuna and her series of near-death experiences over the course of 100 years intertwined with young romance, family rivalries and some magical realism. Overall, it made promises for an interesting read. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

What let this book down for me was the third person perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read many books written from this
Bina Valenzano
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read, I highly recommend it! I am a first generation Italian-American, and this book really resonated with me. It felt like I was reading about the lives of my own family members. I felt sad when I turned to the last page!

I need more books Ms. Grames!
Jenna Bookish
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
"This is the story of Mariastella Fortuna the Second, called Stella, formerly of Ievoli, a mountain village of Calabria, Italy, and lately of Connecticut, in the United States of America. Her life stretched over more than a century, and during that life she endured much bad luck and hardship. This is the story how she never died."

This book was an absolute dream. Let me get the negative out of the way first and say that the only thing that's keeping me from rating it a full five stars is that the
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Should amuse Italian Americans, a group I am not a member of - but it was a creative structure for a debut novel that I enjoyed reading during a rainstorm. The emphasis is on family and Italian culture.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book reviews on

This book is a fairly long read but worth every word the reader invests in it. It's a slow building saga through Stella’s life from birth, to the end, and many ‘almost’ deaths inbetween.

I loved the feeling of a kind of ‘fate’ within its pages, as we learn how a very small change could have meant Stella didn’t survive, but the actual narrative tells how Stella did, somehow, survive the many near-misses - from being trampled by a pig to jumping to her death out
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is a blurb from Lisa See on the back and I can't think of a more apt comparison. Juliet Grames has gifted us with a novel that, like See's, explores the difficulties and disappointments of a woman wanting more than the husband and children ordained for her by her patriarchal culture.

The Lisa See comparison is apt, not just in structure, but also in the way it utterly sucked me in and transported me into Stella's life. I felt for her. I wanted nothing more than for Stella to break free of f
Chris Pavone
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful novel about the twists, turns, and near-deaths of one woman's long eventful life. Enjoyable, extremely clever, and beautifully written. I loved it.
Elissa Sweet
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd been looking forward to reading THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA for a long time, and it still exceeded my expectations. Juliet Grames is a beautiful writer and a sharp observer of both human nature and the complexities of family relationships, and this novel manages to be so many things at once: heartbreaking, funny, horrifying, enraging, fierce, feminist and loving. The story revolves around the life of Mariastella Fortuna and her family’s journey from Italy to America—and the t ...more
Katie Lawrence
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc
This was just ok for me at the current moment. I think a lot of readers will enjoy it, I just was not over the moon about it.

The writing is gorgeous in this family saga largely focused on Stella Fortuna. It follows her beginnings in a small Italian town, her immigration to America and the 7 (or 8) times she almost died (it depends on who you ask). I found the story engrossing and the characters well developed as well.

(view spoiler)
Jean Brown
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Seems most loved this book. I didn’t love it for some reason. I found it overly long and the characters just didn’t touch me. I did like the final part of the book and how the author brought the story to an ending.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This sweeping historical fiction book spans generations focusing mostly around Stella Fortuna. It made me laugh and made me cry and left me steaming mad with some characters. At multiple points I was infuriated! What I liked most about this book was that it was believable. I could see a lot of my family story in here and made me wish that I had sat with my grandparents and great aunts to hear our family history. Alas, that is often life - as children, teens, and even young adults we're too busy ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, booktopia-2019
Fun, funny, fast--this amazing story of Italian immigrants, set in Italy and in the U.S. just before, during, and after WWII, is filled with unique and interesting individuals. It's much more about the life of Stella Fortuna than about her near-death experiences, but what a unique way to frame the saga.
Lynda Loigman
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by @julietgrames is my absolute favorite kind of story. Comforting & familiar, folksy with a dash of fairy-tale-ish-but-not tidbits, full of family secrets & (as they say in yiddish) mishegas. Also, the writing is absolutely EXQUISITE!
Aiyana PZ
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the book I’ve been looking for. Sweeping, epic, generational, sassy characters, food, family, misery, happiness. The timeline really aided the telling of Stella’s tale. There were brutal moments contrasted with sweet ones. The bad guys were really awful and made you want to punch something. Conflicts between generations, cultures, genders. I wish I could get to know Stella for the first time again and I wish she was real
Kim McGee
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All the years as an Editor must have been well spent because I could not believe that this is the work of a debut author. Juliet Grames has engulfed us into this family narrative so completely I felt like I understood the Italian being spoken, found myself warding off the evil eye and wanting to stand up to all the injustices that Stella and her family had to endure. The novel began with the author wanting to know her Grandmother and Great Aunt's story and the result is a portrait of a full, fan ...more
Jiny S
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not a happy, feel good story. It is a good read, nevertheless.

Stella Fortuna was born in a remote and backward village in Italy to a mother who had strong values and devoted everything to her religion and family. Stella is beautiful, strong-willed, and lucky enough to survive many strange, near death incidents.

This is the story of Stella’s life and her family. Stella’s mother took care of herself and her children with no help or resources while her husband is away for the first half of
Stella is the second daughter to be born with this name. The sister that came before her died. Rumors and talk of Stella being a cursed child surround her small Italian village . Following the Fortuna family before and long after WWII, Stella tackles her onset of near death experiences leaving her with a hard and brazen shell. From the foothills of Italy to the suburban streets of CT, this story is steeped in tradition often tragic and debilitating. This debut novel is one that you will get lost ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cora, Mary Sweet
I could never get enough of this book, but I do have to sleep and eat and...
Grames's debut novel proves she is a writer able to paint verbal pictures. I was able "to see" so much of this book in my mind's eye.
Loosely based on the author's grandmother. I experienced so many emotions while reading this, especially sad that someone could so unhappy especially through such a very long life.
All is not misery. It is interesting how different members of A family, supposedly raised the same, turn out so
3 no 7
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna” is the life story of Mariastella Fortuna the Second, called Stella, formerly of a mountain village in Calabria, Italy, and later of Connecticut, in the United States. Her life stretched over more than a century, and during that life, she endured much bad luck and hardship. The book is the first person narrative by one who went in search of the first Mariastella Fortuna, what everyone knew, what was hidden but revealed, and what was a secret waiting t ...more
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