Bella Fortuna by Rosanna Chiofalo is a great read that is packed with personality. The novel centers around the DeLuca family – Olivia and her three daughters who work together at their wedding dress shop, Sposa Rosa. Olivia and her husband came to America after World War II looking for a better life and had it until he passed away fourteen years ago. With stubborn determination, Olivia transforms their tailor shop into a designer wedding dress boutique that she runs with her three daughters, Valentina, Connie, and Rita.
Working with demanding brides, the DeLuca ladies have great insight into weddings and the stress that comes with them, but are thrilled for Valentina who is planning her own wedding. Valentina is to wed Michael, a boy who grew up in the same Astoria, New York neighborhood, and has been her knight-in-shining-armor since childhood. After designing and making the perfect dress and planning a dream wedding and honeymoon in Venice, Valentina is ready to walk down the aisle in Italy. An unpredictable tragedy, however, shakes the DeLuca clan to the core, and forces them to reassess what family really is.
I honestly felt like someone had been secretly watching family get-togethers hosted by my Italian-American in-laws – the characters are warm and relatable and endearingly blend Italian phrases and fragemented English idioms. The novel is well written and addictive – Chiofalo has true voice – and is ideal for a book club as it has recipes that are mentioned in the story and has a great book discussion guide. This is a great read with lots of heart and Italian flair.