Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Siri Mitchell's A Heart Most Worthy ~ Reviewed
Heart Most Worthy, A [Paperback]
Siri Mitchell (Author)
Paperback: 379 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (March 1, 2011)
The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream--and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times. Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer's son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza's most important client. Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?
Siri Mitchell tells a good story. I've found myself immersed in her novels, picturing and smelling just what she is describing. I've also found myself connecting with her characters. I'm not sure that Siri has a fiction-writing weakness.
In another historical, which have all been intriguing, Siri takes us to Boston during a time of unrest and upheaval. Italian immigrants have come to America, Spanish influenza is on the horizon, and war overshadows. Three young women take jobs in a dress designer's shop and live in the nearby tenements. Their unique and sometimes similar struggles play out on the pages.
Siri has chosen an omniscient point of view which is not my favorite. However, this novel reads almost like a fairy tale or morality tale. And I found it worked very well. The number of characters might seem overwhelming at first but the reader does get to know each of them and the story flows. The Italian spice and Catholic faith demonstrated through the life of the characters and their interactions add elements that enrich the story, too. As things were tied up it felt a tiny bit hurried but that's minor. One plot element didn't quite feel satisfyingly resolved, but again, that is minor. Read it, if nothing else, for pure escapism. Read it if you are a writer because Siri excels. Read it if you like a good fairy tale.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer
Bonus Review by: Michelle Griep
In 1918 Boston, three seamstresses dare to dream of a better life. Fiery Julietta pursues love recklessly. Shy Annamaria falls for the wrong man. Secretive Luciana’s past endangers them all. Drawn together amid the opulence of Madame Fortier’s dress shop, will each find the fairy-tale ending she seeks?
Once again author Siri Mitchell brings the past to life in A Heart Most Worthy. Every time I read one of Siri ‘s books, I feel like I’ve sat in on a college level history class, with the added bonus that I didn’t have to pay the tuition and there’s no final. Win, win, win, I tell ya!
This story puts the reader dead center in the heart a Bostonian Italian neighborhood during the early twentieth century. I already knew about the danger of the epic Spanish Flu, but I had no idea of the hazards of prejudice against Italians. The trials the three main characters endure evoke feelings of compassion, sympathy, and outright anger. And not just because of the way others disrespected them, but for the way Italians treated other Italians. Leaves me shaking my head.
This is a unique novel in that it’s presented mostly in omniscient narrative, which is slightly jarring in my opinion. I got used to it after awhile but it’s not a personal favorite.
A Heart Most Worthy is a stand alone story that makes some great points about confusing lust for love, the need for government vs. anarchism, and how easily the things we think we need can be turned into idols.