I will always have a soft spot for well-researched historical fiction, and that was exactly what I found with Giacomo’s Daughter. Rosanna and Diana Savone (publishing simply as the Savone Sisters) have created a Prohibition-era story of the Italian Mafia in Detroit that feels as though it could have really happened. As the authors’ note states, some of the events did occur, showing that once again the best historical fiction draws deeply from history.
Sofia Denaro is the young wife of Max Denaro, who is possibly the most dangerous man in Detroit, and he has given her everything: fine clothes, a good house, and a way out of her old working-class life. He has also, unfortunately, traumatized her and made her short marriage hellish. Over dinner on a boat, Sofia confronts her husband and tells him everything he has done to her, sparing no detail. Though the frame of the narrative takes place over a single night, the story itself spans much more, showing every moment of her lost innocence.
The Savone Sisters certainly know how to craft a narrative. The story moves smoothly between “present-day” on the boat and Sofia’s explanation of what happened to her and how. The unflinching detail, while at times difficult to read, is a necessary part of the story, and many Mafia wives were abused by their husbands. The Savone Sisters have not tried to create a romance but to illustrate part of the past, and in that, they have done a remarkable job.
It isn’t only in the darker details that their research shows. Every setting feels true and believable, as do the characters. Even the secondary ones have their own agendas and wishes, all of which come through clearly in the narrative.
Unfortunately, the amount of detail proves to be the novel’s undoing. The authors spell out things that the readers could infer for themselves, and some backstory elements were completely unnecessary or had been mentioned two chapters earlier. In addition, the dialect of some characters feels forced and awkward.
On the whole, however, the story is a strong one, and compelling. Sofia’s character has depth and humanity beyond the traditional “battered woman” narrative, and I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say I gasped in delight at the end. Giacomo’s Daughter is the first book in a trilogy, and I look forward greatly to reading the next two books to see how Sofia evolves next.
|Author||Rosanna Savone and Diana Savone|
|Page Count||373 pages|
|Publisher||Liv Luhv Rahyt Inc.|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|