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Praise for The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

“Magically real… Grames, who has based some of her story on family history, eschews the New World fairy tale in favor of the truth… ‘The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna’ achieves what no sweeping history lesson about American immigrants could: It brings to life a woman that time and history would have ignored.”—Washington Post

“Satisfying your urge for a sumptuous intergenerational saga, the heart-wrenching novel The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna hinges on a rift that challenges the heart of a family that has survived so many other odds. Death is no stranger to the titular character, the flinty older sister to the adored baby sister Tina. Leaving their small Italian village, the Fortunas move to the United States as World War II looms. Fleeing to escape one fate, Stella struggles to carve out her independence from a tribe for whom survival is paramount.”—The Observer

“[A] witty and deeply felt family saga.” —Entertainment Weekly

“If you’re itching for a juicy tale to sink your teeth into, look no further. Loosely based on Grames’s Italian American grandmother’s life story, this family saga focuses on sisters Stella and Tina… Loaded with resentments and romances and structured around Stella’s multiple near-death experiences, this book is Russian Doll with a dash of Ferrante.”—Family Circle

“Stella Fortuna’s mother is convinced that she is cursed; in their small Italian village, bad luck always seems to find her. When the family emigrates to the United States before World War II, Stella and sister Tina have to navigate a strange new world.”—New York Post, Best Books of the Week

“A charming, unique, and wholly original new voice in fiction.”—Historical Novel Review

“Absorbing… Ambitious… Deftly told, this sprawling drama is packed with vividly drawn characters and twisted family secrets. Overall, this is an engrossing debut with an unforgettable main character.”—Daily Express (UK)

“In The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, the act of telling a story on a relative’s behalf raises questions about a person’s right to define her own legacy… Her resistance to being ‘mastered’ permeates the story. Ironically, though, the novel is itself an act of mastery.”—The Atlantic

“Grames has based her engrossing first novel on a similar Calabrian village and her grandmother’s life story. While the subject matter isn’t always easy (miscarriage, abuse, and pedophilia, and seven or eight near deaths), the Fortunas are so lively and sharply drawn that you’ll eagerly follow their journey from pre–World War II Italy to early aughts Connecticut.”—Vulture 


“A darkly funny tale about two sisters, Stella and Tina, the former of whom spends her childhood catastrophising from one lethal mishap to another… A class act - don’t miss it.”—Women & Home (UK)

“Powerful and resonant.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“This debut novel by Juliet Grames follows one fascinating family as they make their way from Italy to America on the brink of the Second World War, only to find that some problems—often ones that have to do with who you are and who you're related to—aren't so easy to outrun.”—Town & Country 

“As Stella strives to prove herself among the many messy and aggressive men in her life, Grames uses her heroine’s story to reflect on motherhood, inherited trauma and survival.”—Time

“Unputdownable…This is a book that cuts to the core of what it means to struggle in a new place, to fight for a family you love… The writing is so good and the book flows along seamlessly, revealing a mastery of storytelling, sense of place, a touch of magical realism, and unforgettable characters that you will love and hate…This is a book worth getting lost in.”The Jackson Clarion-Ledger

“This beautifully written novel follows headstrong Stella Fortuna from her childhood in Italy to her adulthood in America…A tale of family, love, and lies, with a transfixing protagonist who guides you through the highs and lows of her remarkable life.”—Woman Magazine (UK)

“Stella is a complex, often tragic character, representative of the struggles of women in the past to exert any sort of autonomy over their lives and bodies, and readers who appreciate narratives driven by vivid characterization and family secrets will find much to enjoy here… Readers’ patience is richly rewarded in this assured debut, which marks Grames as an author to watch.”—Booklist

“This messy, complex, and intoxicating tale is as haunting as it is heartening, and these characters are sure to be remembered for a long time.”—CrimeReads

“Addictive . . . We follow Stella over a long-life involving love, heartbreak and all the family drama you could imagine, through two world wars and decades of change and transformation. If I railed against the unfair way her life turned out, I fell in love with Stella almost from page one; she’s a fantastic, complicated heroine — and what a story she has to tell.”—Medium

This ambitious family saga takes the form of a biographical epic… A big-hearted tribute to a generation of women who struggled to overcome gender biases, and to a generation of early US emigrants who clung onto their old beliefs as they struggled to adapt to life in a foreign land.”—Straits Times (Singapore)

“Not your typical multigenerational saga, this debut novel proffers a dark version of the female experience, where motherhood leeches life from the soul. Stella is an original character ahead of her time, and readers may be troubled by her … but kudos to an author who can evoke such a strong reaction. For fans of Amy Tan or Isabelle Allende.”—Library Journal

“[An] arresting debut.”—Brit + Co

“The author’s grandmother inspired this meaty family saga set in Calabria and Connecticut, crossing two centuries and five generations… In conjuring this absorbing life, Grames has created a satisfying doorstop of a book, rich in detail, tightly written and delightfully easy to get lost in.”The New York Times

“Epic in scale and richly detailed... Grames holds the reader under a spell from start to finish as she constructs a puzzle of identity formed against convention... Grames’s clear and compassionate voice lets the figures of her heritage move freely.”
O, the Oprah Magazine

“A rousing multi-generational novel which moves between rural Calabria at the turn of the 20th century and New York in the late Thirties…Writing in vibrant, involving prose that gallops across the pages, Grames serves up a large cast of distinctive characters, with a formidable woman at its heart. Packed with family secrets and their repercussions, the novel memorably pins down the American immigrant experience. It’s an impressive achievement.”—Daily Mail

If you’re going through Elena Ferrante withdrawals, this is the book for you. A rich, sweeping tale of an Italian-American family and their long-buried secrets.”—Harper’s Bazaar, #1 Best Summer Read

“Grames’s debut novel, written as a dinner conversation, is a painful testament to the daily tragedies that shape women’s stories—and a poignant reflection on the incredible strength that emerges from them.”—Ms. Magazine

Deals frankly with poverty, family feuds, mistreatment of women and struggles of immigrant families.”Hartford Courant

“Grames’s vivid and moving debut follows its heroine from a childhood in the early 20th century in a tiny Calabrian mountain village to her family’s immigration to America when she is 19 and then through a long life… Grames keeps the spotlight on stubborn, independent, and frequently unhappy Stella, while developing a large cast of believably complicated supporting characters and painting sensually intricate portraits of Calabria and Connecticut. With her story of an ‘ordinary’ woman who is anything but, Grames explores not just the immigrant experience but the stages of a woman’s life. This is a sharp and richly satisfying novel.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“A poignant debut novel, it follows a southern Italian family from their village in Calabria to a new life in Connecticut just before World War II. The tale is seen through the eyes of Stella, who’s prone to barely escaping death and bears some painful family secrets.”—AARP

“This powerful and compelling story has characters so beautifully drawn you’ll feel you know them personally. Mouth-watering descriptions of Italian food and fascinating social history add to the novel’s ever-changing canvas. With layer upon layer of misfortune for Ms Fortuna, this is far from an easy read, but its captivating plotting will keep you rooting for Stella until the end.”—S Magazine (Sunday Express, UK)

”A novel people will be talking about for years to come.”—Providence Journal

“I loved this meaty family saga… I couldn’t help rooting for the complicated and unstoppable hero.”—Good Housekeeping (UK)

“Juliet Grames's epic novel follows Mariastella Fortuna, the indomitable Italian woman who, in the course of a long life beginning in Calabria and ending in the US, escapes death seven times—or eight, depending who you ask. Stella's life is rich in eccentric characters and unlikely encounters, and she inhabits a world that is tinged with magic but still limited by patriarchal values—and she carries with her a dark family history. It's an extensive, often cheeky, exploration of lineage, fate, and womanhood.” —BuzzFeed

“This sweeping tale moves from Calabria to Connecticut over the course of a century… Thanks to gorgeous writing from Grames, it’s full of beautiful passages and is the perfect book to take with you on holiday but be warned: it’s not a comfort read… A messy, complex and convincing story of women struggling to find their true power.”—Stylist

“This is the big, magical historical novel you have been craving… It starts out in present-day Connecticut, where Stella and her sister, Tina, have lived next door to one another without speaking for decades. To find out what caused the fight, you have to go waaaaaay back to the beginning. Which is good news for the reader, because everything about this novel is wonderful.”—BookRiot

“Twisty and complicated but wholly original.”—Electric Literature

“An interesting, immersive book, a 446-page novel with a wholly creative premise… The structure of the novel also is original… Grames captivates with Stella, a complicated, cold woman.”—The Missourian

“Entrancing… Will find broad appeal as both an illuminating historical saga and a vivid portrait of a strong woman struggling to break free from the confines of her gender.”—BookPage

“Juliet Grames does a masterful job of parsing out Stella’s story, from growing up in an isolated mountain village to immigrating to America and navigating the perils of a patriarchal society along the way. This story explores familial bonds, discontentment, betrayal, and the damage of keeping secrets. Readers, get comfortable because you will not want to put this book down. I loved Stella.”
—Patricia Moody, Hickory Stick Bookshop, for the ABA IndieNext List