by Kristen B.
I love to travel (the past year has been rough, folks). I will go just about anywhere and enjoy a new location, different foods, and all the sights there are to see. Ask me for my list of favorites, and inevitably Florence, Italy will be in the top three. It’s a small, lovely, walkable city stuffed full of Renaissance art and history and overflowing with delicious food. What’s not to love? I am extremely excited to have Italy as the theme for our annual fundraiser.
This year’s Evening in the Stacks on February 27, while virtual, is going to be the party not to miss with three great authors presenting. A tour company based in Tuscany offers an online mini-vacation with truffle hunting, a pasta-making demonstration, and a virtual wine tasting. You can enjoy a taste of Italy with a delivered meal from a local caterer. Explore our various price points for meals, wine, swag, and books! Hope to see you at our Serata Virtuale!
I don’t like to plan trips in too much detail because sometimes you miss serendipitous occasions and lucky finds. Leaving a day to wander where the mood strikes always ends up as my favorite day of any vacation. You do need some clues about where to start, and Frommer’s travel guides can set your feet on good paths no matter where you go. Pauline Frommer is one of the three authors attending Evening in the Stacks! She is the co-president of Frommer Media LLC with her father, Arthur Frommer, founder of the Frommer’s guidebooks and Frommers.com. Pauline is also an award-winning writer and editor, and has authored six best-selling travel guides, as well as countless magazine and web articles.
If you can’t travel in person, you can still read books that transport you to someplace new. If you want to travel to Calabria, Italy (back in time, too), you can dive into The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames. Juliet will also be joining the party this year! Her novel draws heavily from her family’s experiences. Beginning just before World War I, the book details the overwhelming poverty of the mountainous region of Calabria, but the people shine despite their circumstances. I chuckled at some of the scenes of church and family, while being taken aback at the casual brutality of women’s lives in the early twentieth century. Stella Fortuna (which means lucky star) survives many mishaps (7 or 8 of them depending how you count) to have a sprawling, riotous family in Connecticut. It’s a story of the joys and heartaches of family, and it offers an honest look at Italian immigration experiences. Stella and her sister Concetta are strong, vital women who ruled and loved their family fiercely.
Another strong Italian-American woman, Chi Chi Donatelli is the main character of Tony’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. Adriana is also coming to Evening in the Stacks! Cheech, as her family and friends call her, was born and raised on the Jersey Shore. She wants more than the expected life, continuing all the local traditions. Chi Chi can sing, and she dreams of fronting a big band while traveling the country. Tony Arma, stage name for Saverio Armandonada, lives the dream after leaving his job at a Detroit auto plant. They meet via mutual friends (or maybe it was cousins) at a wedding and again later when Chi Chi goes up to the big city to audition for a singer/songwriter position with the band Tony fronts. As it turns out, they are better friends than (eventually) spouses – sometimes dreams change and sometimes they don’t. Chi Chi Donatelli is my kind of gal, though – strong, ambitious, and no-nonsense, but with a huge heart. Personally, I think that Chi Chi and Stella Fortuna could have been friends. Both women wanted more from life than what their gender prescribed for them.
Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS and to be part of the team planning Evening in the Stacks. She likes to spend winter reading, baking, and waiting for baseball to return.