Book Review: “The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany” by Lori Nelson Spielman

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Book of the Month program has been helping me pass the time during the pandemic. I received my eighth box (for March) last week. Four more boxes, and I reach their “BFF” status. This level means I get an extra free book for my birthday and another free one at the end of the year (Quick calculation: 14 new hardback books each year for approximately $12.86 each, with no shipping costs necessary. Nice. Can you tell I’m a big fan of BOTM?)

Receiving my March choice (Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano) reminded me that now would be the perfect time to write a review for last month’s choice, The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman.

I initially chose this book because of its Book of the Month description. The site promoted it with the sentence:

“Escape to the Italian countryside in this hopeful family drama about love, a curse, and second chances.”

I figured, I love curses. And I love other people’s family drama (to get a break from my own). And who doesn’t like second chances? When I selected the book, I honestly thought it was going to have a bit more of a supernatural element. It turns out that was not the case, but that ended up being A-okay.

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany could be described as a “coming-of-age” story, although the protagonist, Emilia Fontana, is actually in her late 20s. Emilia lives to please her family, giving into her older sister’s every whim while living in fear of displeasing Nonna, her grandmother. She lives a quiet life, content to dress as plainly as possible and avoid any romantic endeavors.

Overshadowing her adulthood is the fact that Emilia is a second-born Fontana daughter. According to family legend, all second-born daughters are doomed to never find love. Approaching her 30s (Side note: Being 30+ years old in real life is AMAZING), the legend has become somewhat more meaningful.

When Nonna’s sister, the peppy and eccentric Aunt Poppy, contacts Emilia out-of-the-blue to invite her along on a generous vacation to Italy, Emilia’s life becomes upended. This chaos is due to a decades long feud between her grandmother and great-aunt, which threatens to break apart even more family relationships.

The book follows Emilia and her younger cousin Lucy (also a second-born Fontana), as they join the aging Aunt Poppy on her seemingly inane quest to meet a lost love in Italy.

My favorite parts of the book are the intrigue of the curse and the role it plays for the women, even if they choose not to believe in it. I also appreciate how Spielman crafts the Fontana family and their interactions with one another. Their emotions were believable, and I didn’t feel like the characters were always making predictable choices.

If you are looking for a quick read that whisks you away to the warm Italian sun for a while, definitely check this one out!

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 crows.

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