Today I bring to you all another book set in Italy, thanks to the Italy Book Tours. The story of a family disintegrating from conflicting loyalties in Calabria, “The Inheritance” is set during the period 1897 to 1913, a time when the region of Calabria was subject to earthquakes and tsunamis. A lot of superstition clashed with religion which led to a class system that ruled the people.
Caterina is an atypical woman, and The Inheritance chronicles her life from birth to young womanhood. Born with an inheritance of loss into a society that has predetermined what she can and cannot do, she vows to live a life of her choosing. Caterina refuses to allow the limits of her gender, the constraints of her class and the demands imposed by those in power to stand in her way. Caterina remains steadfast in her commitment to become the woman she imagines. Her decisions ignite conflicts and fuel a chain of events that result in dire consequences for all whose path she crosses. Calabria is the perfect backdrop for the tragedy that unfolds in The Inheritance.
Family dynamics, genealogical research to solve ancestral mysteries and international travel are Marianne Perry’s priorities. A second-generation Canadian-Italian, with a thirty-year career in education and communications, Marianne holds a Master of Education Degree from The University of Western Ontario (Canada). A past member of the Board of Trustees, the Canadian National Arts Centre Corporation, she has also published non-fiction genealogical articles throughout North America. As a girl, Marianne fell in love with The National Geographic Magazine and dreamt of exploring the world. With her recent visit to Antarctica, she achieved her goal of stepping foot on every continent. The mother of two grown children, Marianne and her husband live on the shores of the St. Mary’s River, which drains Lake Superior on the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. She continues to research family history and write non-fiction genealogical articles. In addition, she is working on her second novel and planning further adventures.
Marianne blogs about genealogy, travel, family and writing on her website. Visit her at http://www.marianneperry.ca. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.
An Interview with Marianne Perry, author of The Inheritance
Why did you write The Inheritance?
Family mysteries intrigue me and I wanted to understand why my paternal grandmother, Nana Caterina left Calabria, southern Italy in 1913 as a young woman; sailed on a steamship across the Atlantic Ocean; landed at Ellis Island, New York; settled in Canada and never returned to her homeland. Our family knew scant about Nana’s early life so I started genealogical research to investigate her history. I eventually travelled to her ancestral village and The Inheritance is a tale inspired by my discoveries.
Why is there a photo of a crumbling stone cottage on the book cover?
Authenticity is important to me as a writer and I snapped this photograph on a research trip to Calabria, southern Italy. The crumbling stone cottage was located in the mountains near my Nana Caterina’s ancestral village and it is in the vicinity where The Inheritance is set. The image is intrinsic to Caterina’s life as a peasant in this novel and I felt a personal photograph would also give the reader a sense of my values.
Tell me about the cameo brooch Caterina inherits.
My mother has long suffered from dementia and I cherish a cameo brooch that I inherited from her. It belonged to her Sicilian-Italian-born father but she knows nothing about its origin. The clasp is broken and the brooch, fragile. I have long been haunted by the milky carving of the elegant lady depicted and it seemed the perfect gift to symbolize the ailing Anna Marino’s quasi-maternal affection for Caterina.
The Inheritance is set from 1897 to 1913. How did you make this period come alive for readers?
Travelling through Calabria, southern Italy helped me pen descriptive passages. I’ve visited the region twice and Italy, seven times. I also studied the history and social customs of this era and scoured genealogical documents to select authentic character names such as Mafalda and Fortunata. The Villa San Michele is a real place and I stayed at the turn of the century villa when in Cetraro, Calabria.
What do you hope the reader will gain from reading The Inheritance?
Travel informs us about the world and I included a map of Calabria, southern Italy at the beginning of the book as a guide for readers. The region is less well known as Tuscany, for example, and I hoped The Inheritance might stimulate interest in exploring this part of Italy. Everyone has family mysteries and I included a genealogical resource section with practical information to help readers solve theirs.
Thanks Marianne for these insights and honest answers! Happy reading everyone!