The Uninvited: A Novel by Cat Winters

19547848

Ivy Rowan wakes up one day after being struck with Influenza. An epidemic has taken over the town and before she got sick, her father and brother had committed a terrible crime. Deep in her gut, something is telling her that it’s time for her to leave home and go out on her own in life.

Out in town, everything is in turmoil. In addition to the epidemic, soldiers are being sent to fight in the Great War overseas, dying in battle, coming back wounded, leaving behind widows and wives to fend for themselves. Ivy finds a place to board in town and seeks out a German man who was wronged by her family members-she wants, more than anything, to help him in some way.

Ivy finds herself confused, nothing is as it should be, the world is such an ugly place and she wants desperately to find beauty and warmth in it. She wants desperately to make a difference in someone’s life…But there is one terrible hitch-women in her family have always had a “gift” of seeing spirits after they have passed, right before something terrible happens to someone close to them….And she keeps seeing the spirits of the departed all around her.

What are the spirits trying to tell her? Is someone close to her in danger? Can she help enough to make a difference to someone? Can she form a connection with the German man that will give him comfort in his time of misery?

The Uninvited, by Cat Winters, is a psychological thriller sprinkled with ghosts and set in the time of the Great War. A combination of so many genres makes for an addicting and intriguing read. If you don’t like “ghost stories”, I would steer clear of this one, but if you can handle a touch of the supernatural in your reading, The Uninvited is very strange and interesting. If you like books that twist your perception and reality, The Uninvited is for you!

Swimming in the Moon by Pamela Schoenewaldt

17349165

The year is 1904, and Teresa and her daughter, Lucia, are servants in the grand villa of a count and countess on the Bay of Naples. Lucia’s beginnings were shady, she doesn’t know who her father was, only that her mother was assaulted on the shore while working at a masquerade ball many years before. Still, they have a peaceful life, for the most part, cleaning the villa and keeping to themselves. One day, however, everything changes. Her mother aspires to sing opera, and who should appear before her but a famous male opera singer. She confronts him in effort to make him listen to her beautiful voice and she is cast aside and humiliated. News about the episode travels over the island, and the incident appears to be all the Count needs to escalate his poor treatment of Teresa, and to turn it’s terrible focus onto Lucia. Suddenly, the young woman and her mother are fleeing Italy and headed to America to find a new life.

Early 1900s America was a bustling place, full of opportunity and modern ideas…But life is not so wonderful as families in Italy were led to believe. Sweatshops fill the cities and immigrants are treated badly. Racism is powerful and there is no love lost between the Italians, the Polish, the Irish… All are competing for work and suspicion runs rampant. Still, Teresa gets a job and Lucia is allowed to learn English and go to school, and things go quite well for some time…But Teresa struggles, trouble finds them, and they must find a new path. Teresa decides to chase her dream and finally gets work as a performer in a vaudeville show. Lucia is finally able to graduate, but she receives terrible news about her mother, and her life and plans are put on hold…Maybe forever. Will Lucia ever find the life she wants, or will she continue to be beaten down, time and again?

Once in a while, an avid reader finds a novel like Pamela Schoenewaldt’s Swimming in the Moon and is thrown a little off-kilter by it’s originality and deep emotional pull. Many of us get trapped in genres, Paranormal Romance, or Historical Romance, or Fantasy, or ChickLit, and we never venture outside of our comfort zone. Swimming in the Moon is the type of book that takes you out of your comfort zone, although I would categorize it as women’s fiction because it outlines one of the greatest challenges faced by many females: the mother-daughter relationship. If you enjoy fiction with a lot of drama and feeling, you won’t want to miss Pamela Schoenewaldt’s Swimming on the Moon.

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Enza and Ciro grew to adolescence in the mountains of Italy, their lives crossing one another but never meeting, until Ciro arrives to help bury her little sister and the two are pulled into a saga of near misses and everlasting love that lasts for decades. Ciro learns that he must leave the convent where he has been living, bound to be a shoemaker’s apprentice in America. Enza stays with her family, but as they begin to lose everything to horrible luck and heartache, she finds herself on a boat, also headed to America. In some stroke of luck in the overcrowded city, they find one another again-but the timing is not right and they divide to follow their separate destinies. She gets low-level work in a factory and meets a friend who convinces her that they can do better, giving her the strength to pursue dreams she never thought she deserved to realize. She finds herself in the job of her dreams, a seamstress at The Metropolitan, creating costumes for the opera singers, and she finds a man who immediately adores her, and they become engaged. In the meantime, Ciro leaves to serve America in the Great War. But Enza has not seen the end of Ciro. The two meet again, and she finds that she must answer the questions that have haunted her since that first kiss on the mountain in the Italian Alps. Can she say goodbye to Ciro, for once and for all?

This is a novel about everlasting love, destiny (both manifested and otherwise), following your heart and taking risks in the pursuit of happiness. More than anything, this is the story of two Italian Immigrants trying to make their way to happiness in a time when everything was against them. The reality of this novel will strike the more sensitive readers brutally. Lives are lost, hearts are broken, and greatest fears are met-this tale is beautiful and moving, and at times, unbelievably heartbreaking.

If you loved The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman, The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough, which address love at it’s most painful and families that endure unbelievable strain, then this novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife, by Adriana Trigiani, is a must-read for you. And don’t be put off by the slow start-the story gets much better than you expect. I Promise.