Eleanor Amore has a promising life ahead of her on paper. She attends Yale, has a famous mother, a chance to study abroad in Florence and a great boyfriend. Underneath that picture perfect life lies so much more. Eleanor, or Elly as she is affectionately called, has a baby on the way with that very perfect boyfriend who happens to abuse her, her mother is dramatic and detached and she quickly learns that life and people are not always what they seem.
When Elly decides to leave the life she has somehow stumbled into and doesn’t exactly belong to and head to the Bronx to stay with her mother Carmen’s estranged family, the Amore women, the novel takes a magical turn. Carmen doesn’t speak to or of the Amore women to Elly. It also comes out that Elly has no memory of her early years whatsoever. When she arrives in the Bronx, she is hit hard with immediate love, fleeting memories that remain just out of reach of her grasp and magic. Elly soon sees that this isn’t a typical house and the women who inhabit it are not typical women.
The Amore women that Elly moves in with are Mimi, Itsy and Fee, each a bit eccentric, wise and full of their own quirks. Her three family members have been waiting for and expecting her return, as has the handsome neighbor Anthony who Elly met as a child but is part of her hazy memories. The longer that Elly is in the Bronx, her memory begins to unfold and her own skills at “the Sight” begin to improve. As memories of Amore family secrets and tragedies begin to spill out and her family history takes shape, Elly is further reminded of how nothing in life is often what it seems. This realization also encompasses Elly herself and as the action and mystery picks up in the book, so much truth is pushed to the surface.Suzanne Palmieri blends the characters past with the present effortlessly and the result is a clear, fun and interesting read.
Even though The Witch of Little Italy is a perfect, light beach read, the material is heartfelt, introspective and interesting. The magical elements of the book are not too far fetched to be relatable, and the magic adds a certain something to the text rather than becoming the main focus. I also enjoyed how the chapters were broken down into character viewpoints; it provided for a fresh prospective to the story, but also organized and outlined the plot. Emotions run rampant, yet contained, in Palmieri’s book, and each emotion, good or bad, lays the groundwork for growth and revelation for Elly who is truly a character that the reader can get behind from start to finish.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.