Skip to main content

Book review--Antonio's Wife, Jacqueline DeJohn

Set in 1908 in New York City, Antonio's Wife is the story of Mina, an Italian immigrant. She works an seamstress, but like all immigrants, dreams of something better for herself. Unfortunately, Mina's husband Antonio beats her and openly cheats on her with his Irish mistress, Kathleen. One day, however, Mina finds herself noticed by the temperamental opera star Francesca Frascatti, and is promoted to be the singer's dresser. Mina then falls in love with Dante, a detective playing the role of Cesca's fiancé. It turns out that both women have secrets in their pasts, secrets that make for an exciting, page-turning read.

Antonio's Wife is extremely dramatic at times, and although the emotions that the characters experience seem a bit too over-the-top, I found myself rooting for the heroine, Mina, as she struggles to overcome the obstacles that are thrown into her path--including dodging her extraordinarily boorish and not-too-bright husband Antonio. However, I thought that the author could have started the book out with more background information on Cesca, as opposed to the middle--up until that point, I was a little bit confused about the details of Cesca's story. I was also confused by the "flashbacks" Mina has. While they were illustrative of her background, the author didn't really make it clear that they were flashbacks as such.

On the other hand, this was a page-turner. At first, it seems as though all its going to be is just a story about the author's ancestors, with a nice mother-daughter reunion, but the story promises to be so much more than that. I'm not sure how much of the book is fiction and how much is fact or based upon it, but it sure does make for an excellent story. Jacqueline DeJohn's style reminds me a lot of the novels of Jennifer Donnelly.


Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy:, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…