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Long Way Home Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1999
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Although the picturesque setting varies more, Wendy Corsi Staub's novel shares many of the most romantic elements of the movie Titanic. This is a pleasing love story about the class distinctions of an era, about friendship and family, and about letting go of love only to discover that love can never really be gone. -- Gerry Benninger for Romantic Times Magazine, July 1999
From the Author
I wrote Long Way Home well before the release of the blockbuster movie Titanic, to which it has since, inevitably, been compared. In fact, the original draft of this manuscript was set in 1912 and the Titanic was one of the shipboard settings in the novel. My editor nixed the idea--ironically because she felt Titanic had already been "overdone"!
The story was inspired by a 1997 visit to Ellis Island, where I was entranced by the knowledge that all eight of my great-grandparents had come through immigration there around the turn of the century, as had several of my husband's grandparents. All of my ancestors had left most of their family behind in Italy, bravely sailing--often alone--to a new world. Their sole purpose was to make better lives for themselves--and ultimately, for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come. Struck by the realization that their sacrifices had shaped the life I have lived, I felt that I owed them some kind of tribute. The book was originally dedicated in memory of my eight great grandparents, whom I will name here: Onorato Corsi, Philomena Rossi Corsi, Antonio Piazza, Anna Morreale Piazza, Liborio "Leo" Ricotta, Frances Valentine Ricotta, Vincenzo Tampio, Domenica Lazarony Tampio.
However, I changed the dedication to the following just before it went to print:
Dedicated in loving memory of Pasquale Corsi and to my husband, Mark, and our sons, Morgan and Brody My grandfather, Pasquale Corsi, was a prolific story-teller. After finishing a big plate of spaghetti on Sunday afternoons, he would lean back, light a cigarette, and pour himself a glass of wine. Then, with all of us gathered around him, he would sip and smoke and talk--about people he had known, and places he had been. He had a growl of a voice, and a quirky way of phrasing things. He persisted in calling grapes by the singular: grape; calling the Thanksgiving turkey the bird...and always, always, he called me doll, and his numero uno (his firstborn grandchild). I'll never see my grandfather's brown eyes twinkling at me, or hear him say "hi, doll," again. He died on November 17, 1998, and the loss is still fresh as I write this.
Long Way Home is based on the true tale he often told about his sister, Loretta. Like Cirra, she was heartsick over leaving her sweetheart behind in Italy. Like Cirra, she was turned away at Ellis Island because the immigration officials suspected trachoma. And like Cirra, Loretta was finally admitted to the United States. But her story has a tragic ending. Not long after arriving in America, she fell victim to the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Loretta Corsi died at the age of nineteen. Her memory, and my grandfather's legacy, will live on. Like him, I am a story-teller. Ti amo, Grandpa
One last note for romance readers: I also write contemporary romances under the pseudonym Wendy Morgan for Zebra's Bouquet line. My latest, Loving Max, will be released in October, 1999.
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Top Customer Reviews
So let me get down to what the story is *really* about. Cira Valentino is a beautiful but dirt poor Sicilian peasant who boards a ship with her family and hopes to start a new life in America. At Ellis Island she is turned away by a health inspector because her eyes are all puffy from crying over leaving one of those so-called "friends" of hers. Forced to head back to Sicily she hitches a ride, nearly gets raped, and is saved by the hero - Thatcher Montgomery - a very rich, very spoiled blue-blooded American.
This begins their relationship. And it's a bumpy one. Thatcher is destined to marry an equally blue-blooded American or he faces becoming cut-off from his cold-hearted family. So they spend a lot of the book falling in love but resisting their feelings because they are "unsuitable" for each other. Cira becomes all defensive and snippy while Thatcher harbors fears that Cira may only be after his money. This type of behavior carries on for most of the book and, in my eyes, the only thing they had in common with each other was a bad case of lust. They finally open up at the end of the book but it was far too late and I was left feeling really uneasy about their future together.
The setting is done fabulously well but sadly I can't say the same about the characters and their on-again/off-again relationship which had me gritting my teeth more often than naught.
In Italy, wealthy American traveler Thatcher Montgomery rescues Cira from the unwanted advances of another individual. He escorts her back to her village where he plans to pick up a sculpture. At home, she finds one can never return as Renzo sleeps with another woman and no one else offers her help except the American. As the pair begins to fall in love, they sail the Atlantic back to America. However, he is upper class and she is a simple peasant, making a permanent relationship impossible.
LONG WAY HOME is a warm historical romance that brings to life an era when class distinction still permeated most of western society. The story line is enjoyable as readers gain a taste of Ellis Island from a different perspective and observe an Italy from the lower class point of view. Cira and Thatcher make a beautiful star-crossed duo whose love seems very strong but still not powerful enough (or is it?) to overcome their backgrounds. Wendy Corsi Staub's story cleverly centers on a twist to Tom Wolfe's saying "you can never go home again" unless one recognizes that their true home is inside the heart.
While trying to find her best friend, Lucia, she runs into trouble and is rescued by Thatcher Montgomery, an American who is traveling in Europe. She finds Lucia but then when she and Lucia are ready to go to America, Thatcher rescues her again. Lucia has a steerage ticket but Ciro has no money and is going to go as a stowaway. Thatcher finds out and pays for a first class ticket for her.
Ciro, Lucia and Thatcher travel on the same ship to New York. Thatcher and Ciro fall in love but he is forced by family obligations to deny it to himself. Then Ciro finds her life taking a totally new direction and she too has to deny her true feelings.
This is a gentle story for a quiet day while two lovers find their way to each other.