The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

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What a debut! This was terrific! I waited all this time to read it? I saw it everywhere too, I picked it up numerous times whenever I saw it, questioning if I should buy it? It sounded like something I would really like? I saw it for sale at Shoppers Drug Mart, at Walmart and of course at Indigo….

But it wasn’t until our most recent book club that I grabbed it from the library as a suggestion for our next read. It wasn’t the one we ended up choosing for our January meeting, but something about it called to me to choose as my next book to read. And am I ever glad I did.

And here’s the second book I’ve read this year that chronicles near-death experiences in two women’s lives, only Stella Fortuna is fictional and is this wonderful debut by Juliet Grames. The first one I read was I Am, I Am, I Am the extraordinary memoir by Maggie O’Farrell (I highly, highly encourage you to listen to it – Daisy Donovan is an absolute delight!)

Stella Fortuna is another excellent book that fits so snuggly inside this Hoarder’s wheelhouse – from birth to death with everything in between, this was a fantastic adventure through the life and near death experiences of Mariastella Fortuna (#2 – the first Mariastella having died from the flu when she was just under 3 years old.) I knew it was even more ideal for me when I opened the book to find a map of Ievoli, Italy -the village Stella grew up in before moving to Hartford, Connecticut. And then turn a couple more pages and there’s a family tree! That sealed the deal for me!

However, there are a number of trigger warnings. So if there is discomfort in reading a story with abuse and sexual abuse, this is probably not going to be the one for you. It is horrible – Stella has a horrible father and her wedding night is a horrible event, among other parts of her life events. Reading of her loss of her agency was sad to read too. But Stella’s story and the way it is told, so envelopes you, I just simply could not stop reading! The storytelling is epic and sweeping and grand. It encompasses the two world wars, the immigrant experience, and this fantastic tale of two sisters and how they became estranged in later years. It is a grand family saga. There is so much inside this story. I really loved it!

I then read many of the Goodreads reviews after finishing and some expressed disappointment at the ending. For me, I thought that ending was terrific, and in some small ways it reminded me of the little twists that Lisa See would use in her endings to books like The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls. Perhaps that is why I had no issue with the ending because I’ve always found See’s endings a delight! Especially in those two books.

Have you read The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna? Did you love it like I did?