Plenty of passion for Giulia and Paolo, but this is more than a love story, and very well written - vivid scenes in Southern Italy and Mount Vernon, NY at the turn of the century that really come alive. Giulia's defiance in choosing who she will love and marry is part of her larger resistance to living a scripted life under the direction of her parents in Italy, and her brother Claudio in America. Drawing on the influences of both her earthy, healer grandmother and her elegant, ambitious mother, Giulia develops the strength to stand up for herself and live with the consequences of her decisions.
The story is brutal at times; there is both domestic violence and the violence of a crowd, children are lost at birth, and loved ones perish from untreatable infections; economic hardship is a deciding reality. Through her life experiences, Giulia leaves a lasting legacy for her extended family, better even than the wealth and comfort that her sisters achieve: holding out for true love, the strength of enduring the unendurable, and best of all, the love letters that Paolo wrote to Giulia so many years ago.