Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Book Review: The Sicilian Inheritance by Jo Piazza

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 2, 2024
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Sara Marsala barely knows who she is anymore after the failure of her business and marriage. On top of that, her beloved great-aunt Rosie passes away, leaving Sara bereft with grief. But Aunt Rosie's death also opens an escape from her life and a window into the past by way of a plane ticket to Sicily, a deed to a possibly valuable plot of land, and a bombshell family secret. Rosie believes Sara's great-grandmother Serafina, the family matriarch who was left behind while her husband worked in America, didn’t die of illness as family lore has it . . . she was murdered.

Thus begins a twist-filled adventure that takes Sara all over the picturesque Italian countryside as she races to solve a mystery and prove her birthright. Flashing back to the past, we meet Serafina, a feisty and headstrong young woman in the early 1900s thrust into motherhood in her teens, who fought for a better life not just for herself but for all the women of her small village. Unsurprisingly it isn’t long before a woman challenging the status quo finds herself in danger.

As Sara discovers more about Serafina she also realizes she is coming head-to-head with the same menacing forces that took down her great-grandmother. At once an immersive multigenerational mystery and an ode to the undaunted heroism of everyday women, The Sicilian Inheritance is an atmospheric, page-turning delight."
Sara's life is unraveling. Her restaurant is going under, she is filing for divorce and custody of her daughter, and to top it off, her beloved great-aunt Rosie has died. Rosie has been a larger-than-life presence in Sara's life for so long. They had plans to travel back to their ancestors' home in Sicily, but they weren't able to make it happen until now. Sara is going to go to Sicily as Rosie has left her a plot of land that was Serafina's (Rosie's mother). This land could sell for a pretty penny and this would change Sara's life. But once she gets to Sicily, things become complicated. She is taken under the wing of Giusy, the innkeeper of the town, and she pretty much knows everything about the town and its people. She lets Sara know that Serafina didn't die of the flu, as her family thought, but rather she was murdered. It's a lot to take in, but Sara starts digging into her family's history and things get even more complicated. Plus, she is starting to ruffle some feathers in town. There's a dual timeline from Serafina's point of view and it takes readers back to the early 20th century in Sicily. Women barely had any rights, but when most of the husbands went off to the mainland for a job, women ruled the island. What could have made Serafina a target, so much so that it got her killed? Jo Piazza's The Sicilian Inheritance is a compelling historical mystery with a lot of family drama.

I was rooting for Sara from the start. She starts as a bit of an underdog and she is down and out. I liked how she slowly unraveled her family history and what exactly happened to Serafina. There are some romantic scenes as well, so there's something here for everyone in 
The Sicilian Inheritance. The chapters from Serafina's point of view satisfied my love for historical fiction and truly brought to life how things were for women in Sicily in the early 20th century. Essentially, The Sicilian Inheritance shines a bright light on motherhood, then and now, as well as the sacrifices many women made for their families. I did find some parts to be a little bit preachy and far-fetched as I did question Serafina's choices from time to time, but overall, that made the story much more entertaining. And no Sicilian story would be complete without the mafia! They play a part in the story as well.

My favorite aspect of 
The Sicilian Inheritance was the setting. Readers can tell that Piazza has visited Sicily many times and studied its history. She brought it to life so well, that it made me want to travel there immediately. The food, its people, its complicated history, and the beautiful scenery all made it memorable read for me.

If you love family sagas and you want to satisfy your wanderlust, look no further. 
The Sicilian Inheritance will have you daydreaming of sipping a glass of wine in a piazza and eating delicious food by azure waters. So, are you a fan of Jo Piazza? Is The Sicilian Inheritance on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments below.


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