Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Italilan Chronicles 2: A Sicilian Farewell by MaryAnn Diorio - #review #giveaway

A young man, a new land, and a dream that threatens to destroy him and his family . . .

The dream of a better life for himself and his family drives Luca Tonetta to the American Promised Land with his wife of five years, Maria Landro Tonetto, and their three children. But the new Promised Land is nothing like what Luca had imagined. Forced to live in a roach-infested tenement house in the seedy section of Brooklyn, he faces the hardships, prejudice, and slanderous assaults of an Italian immigrant torn between two worlds. When Luca is accused of a crime he did not commit, he learns that a dream must first die before it can live.

“Such lovely writing–and an even lovelier story! Author MaryAnn Diorio takes her readers on a courageous journey, from the ancient romance of the Old Country to the perils and possibilities of the New Country. Well developed characters and a story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished this enjoyable read.” – Kathi Macias, Award-Winning Author



There's a lot about Luca (the tailor from book 1 and now Maria's husband) in book two of the Italian Chronicles, A Sicilian Farewell.  I found it interesting to compare and contrast this character with that of Don Franco.

Luca is a Sicilian tailor, who hires Maria despite the rumors of her being a 'fallen woman'.  His shop has been busy due to many of the townsmen emigrating to America in search of a better life and higher wages for their families.  The instability of the Sicilian economy was doubled down by a drought, which wreaked havoc on Bella Terra, Maria's family's home.  In order to provide for his wife and children, Luca considered emigrating as well.  What tipped the scales was his feeling that God had called him to spread the Gospel in America.  Maria's son, Nico, calls him 'papa'.  Luca lives his faith.

Don Franco is a Sicilian priest, and biological father of Nico, begotten after he raped Maria when she was cleaning his house one day.  He threatened Maria and her family's safety after the rape, and then six years later, threatened Maria and his own son Nico's safety if Maria told anyone about his crime.  And he tells other people how to live their lives (and judges them accordingly), will barely acknowledging his own sin.  He is a hypocrite and a coward, leaving Maria to bear the shame of having an illegitimate child alone.

So the growing Tonetta family leaves Sicily for America, where they are hoping the streets are paved with gold.  Well, some street somewhere might be paved with gold, but none of the streets around the Tonetta's infested tenement apartment are like that.  None of the streets where Italian or Irish, or Chinese (insert any location from where immigrants who may look, sound or worship differently have come) are all that shiny either.  He is also accused and jailed for a crime he did not commit.

Thoughts about religion, a faith-filled life, crimes against women and discrimination filled my thoughts as I read this book.  Some of the conditions existing back in Maria and Luca's time (good or bad) are still in effect today.  (Can I get a "#MeToo" or "border wall" from the congregation?)  Ugh.  Apparently we have not yet learned our lessons.

I gained a lot of respect for Maria in Madonna, and then likewise for Luca in Farewell.  They live their lives with authenticity, much more so (IMO) than Don Franco - who was not really repentant of his sin (crime), or the bigoted people with whom they dealt in this 'promised land'.

Diorio has drawn her readers into the story, and it was easy for me to visualize the action and settings.  And I paused for to think about the world (the one we live in) outside the story as well  These are two things that really put my reading experience over the top - and A Sician Farewell has them both!  (I can't wait to start on book 3, Return to Bella Terra!)


(my review of this book can be found here)

A young woman, a priest, and a secret that keeps them bitterly bound to each other…

A horrifying encounter drags soon-to-be-married Maria Landro into the shocking world of religious corruption and an unrelenting village code of honor that threatens to rob her of everything she holds dear. Shunned by the very people who should have embraced her, she withdraws into the confines of Bella Terra, her family’s farm, and remains there for several years…until she is forced to leave to ensure the formal education of her son. In a desperate attempt to protect her child from vicious tongues and malicious hate-mongers and her family farm from bankruptcy, she determines to seek vengeance against the one who ruined her life. But when Luca Tonetta enters her life, she learns a powerful lesson about forgiveness and grace.

“Beautifully written historical novel. Excellent characters, dramatic plot. Beautifully written, giving wonderful feeling for the setting in place and time. Emotionally intense situations, satisfying resolution. Among the two or three best novels I have read this year. Highly recommended.” – Dr. Donn Taylor, Author & Former University Professor of Literature


(will be reviewed here next Wednesday - April 4th)

A mother, her son, and the man who threatens to come between them . . .

When Maria Landro Tonetta receives word that Mama is terminally ill, Maria travels to her Sicilian homeland with her son Nico. She finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream. But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul?

“Each book in the Italian Chronicles series made me want to read the next one. Now I would like to see another spin-off series dealing with the next generation. The characters in MaryAnn Diorio’s book feel so real. They have flaws. They seek better relationships. They suffer and they rejoice. Just like us. There are people in their lives who help strengthen their faith, and there are those who undermine their faith. In this third book, Maria has to face letting go of many things, and only through seeking God first can she do that. Along with messages of faith and family, Return to Bella Terra takes you to Italy, and the vicarious experience is wonderful. Diorio sprinkles just enough Italian words (in italic) throughout the text to give you the sense of being there. You can smell the food, hear the music, and see the beautiful countryside. I highly recommend this series and any other books written by MaryAnn Diorio.” – Claudia Cuddy, Former Professor of Communications



Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her books for both adults and children consistently receive excellent reviews for their content and their style. MaryAnn holds the PhD in French with a concentration in Comparative Literature from the University of Kansas. She resides in New Jersey with her husband Dominic, a retired physician. They are the blessed parents of two awesome daughters, a wonderful son-in-law, and five rambunctious grandchildren. When not writing, MaryAnn loves to read, to paint, and to make up silly songs for her grandchildren.

For more information, please visit MaryAnn Diorio’s website and blog. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.




Click on the banner above to go to the tour site, where you will find links to more reviews of the books in The Italian Chronicles.  You can also find out how to BECOME A BLOG HOST FOR FUTURE BOOK TOURS while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review.)


  1. Thank you so much for your great review, LuAnn! I'm so glad that you are enjoying MaryAnn's novels!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

    1. It was really quite wonderful to have the chance to read all 3 of them one after the other, Amy. Thank you for that opportunity!

  2. I'll have to be back for your review of book three. I am glad you could really enjoy getting into this one and the book. I hope you'll like book three too. Books that make it easy to visualise and really see happening always add intensity to the experience.

    1. My view exactly, Olivia! Hope spring has sprung where you are. We're still working on that here in Kentucky. :)


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    I'll must be back for your survey of book three. I am happy you could truly appreciate getting into this one and the book. I trust you'll like book three as well. Books that make it simple to picture and truly observe happening dependably add power to the experience.