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The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  12,703 ratings  ·  1,892 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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Catalina 100% fiction. But as with many books: inspired by facts one has encountered in life. I'd say many Italian-American families could find themselves in t…more100% fiction. But as with many books: inspired by facts one has encountered in life. I'd say many Italian-American families could find themselves in this story.(less)
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Charles Bill McKenny It's fiction. I didn't assume that part was based on a real person. I think it shows how far the grandchildren were able to go.…moreIt's fiction. I didn't assume that part was based on a real person. I think it shows how far the grandchildren were able to go.(less)

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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recent-favorites
A favorite. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Where to even begin? I’m surprised I don’t see more five star reviews for this perfectly-written compelling story of an Italian immigrant family. The author is also an editor, and it shows in the clear, intentional writing. I read Stella Fortuna’s story over a couple weeks alongside other books, and it’s unusual for me to take that long to read a book. It was easy for me to pick up and hard to put down with each session. At the beginning, there’s a learning curve becau
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 Calabria, 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 betwee ...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
Umut Rados
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
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

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
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
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
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
This novel is written so well, so researched, filled with so much emotion and veracity that I was sure it was a true story. Only it’s not, and I’m a little upset to find that out. Regardless, this book is one of my more favorite reads of 2019. It isn't perfect, but in terms of a historical fiction novel, it's pretty close.

At first, I thought the length of this novel was a little daunting, considering there are so many words to a page, too. It’s not that I don’t read a lot, it’s just that I’ve no
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
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This one started out strong, then got tedious, and finally disappointing toward the end. It was long and could have used some focus.
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
Too much graphic abuse. Can't find the point of the book. It starts with Italian culture and ends with it. . .women's work: cooking. What is the point and what are we to learn other than reimagining the lives of these people so the abusers die one of the 7/8 deaths??? local poisons in a tasty pasta or ever present wine would do the trick. . .

Am done and won't be revisiting. When anything makes a person feel like I do right now, the best thing to do is slip away, fast.
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
Cortney LaScola - The Bookworm Myrtle Beach
I really, really enjoyed this book! It definitely wasn't the type of book you can fly through in a day, but it was a great story spanning the entire life of Stella Fortuna.

I also enjoyed the format the author used, telling the story from her granddaughter's perspective.

Great book!
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!
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
Julia Phillips
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A multigenerational epic that, like PACHINKO and MIDDLESEX, made me reconsider how simultaneously enormous and intimate one story can be.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this book. The first half had me riveted, and since Stella's beginnings loosely matched my own family's path from southern Italy to Connecticut, I found it fascinating to imagine my grandparents and great-grandparents having similar experiences in their journeys. The author really did bring the small town in Italy to life. However, the last part of the book was just unrelentingly depressing. I know that times were hard, but sometimes I do wish authors would ...more
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. ...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)
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 be 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
Sep 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
I got nothing out of this. It's a long-winded novel about women suffering (mostly because of men in their lives), being raped, abused, and generally not having an enjoyable life. There was no interesting plot or character development and I am definitely not entertained by violence of any kind against women and children. ...more
"Juliet Grames has delved into the family secrets of an Italian American family and the ways in which those secrets, as well as slights and injustices, can both cross oceans and trickle down through the generations. This quintessential American immigrant story feels important right now, and I highly recommend it." - Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Lisa See has said it so well. This book is not so much about death but the calamities of life.

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
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
Jul 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I would never recommend this book to anyone. The writing is good. The subject matter is depressing and sickening nearly the entire book. I felt a heavy weight the entire time I listened to it. I’m sure that the author meant to invoke all of these feelings so she did her job. I stuck with it thinking there would be some moment of joy, redemption, anything. I gave up when I was on part 16 of 17 on the audiobook.
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.
Joshua Van Dereck
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
A bloated, wandering, sometimes all-but-structureless narrative of impotent women and the disgustingly abusive men who dominate their lives... Stella Fortuna finds form and momentum for stretches, only to lose it completely and wander into pure ickiness. Rendered characters wander through the narrative, giving way to vague sketches, finding form again, and so forth. There are assuredly sections of real historical intrigue and cultural depth; and there is lots of pure, unadulterated misery that i ...more
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
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