When an old woman is asked to recount the story of her life, she tells an intense and poignant tale about growing up in and surviving a warring suburban family during the 1950s and 60s. Written as a memoir, each chapter describes a particular incident in Lucia’s life which shows the constant struggle between her parents and the perverse effect it has on her and the family. From her complicated and unwanted birth, to her witnessing a suicide at age 3, to her stint as a runaway at age 14, the story progresses to the final crisis where as a young woman, she is turned out of her house and banished from her family forever.
Told in breathtakingly beautiful prose, this is a powerful and timeless story of a dying woman's courageous attempt to come to terms with her past and the troubled family that dominated it.
This is exactly the kind of book I love to read - a woman's personal life story, one that explores legacy and interwoven with family history. Set in the period of time I myself grew up in, it has all the elements to make it fascinating reading. Author Susan Speranza uses the device of a fictional memoir to tale her tale of Lucia Grande, and she writes beautifully, setting the scenes and describing the emotions evocatively.
But as I read, I wished desperately for some happiness for Lucia. Her life and relationships are so filled with emotional pain, and there never seems to be a relief from it. I could not fathom so much cruelty in this family, and, sadly, found myself needing to set the book aside from time to time because the relentless unhappiness too intense.
Susan Speranza is an excellent writer, and while I'm sure there are family situations as intensely miserable as Lucida Grande's, I wish she could have found a way to balance the pain in this story with some positive outcome.
Thanks to TLC Tours for the opportunity to read this book.