Children of Italy by Christine Simolke
"Our country has been made great by immigration and this is a wonderful story of one immigrant family from Italy who make a life despite hardships and temptations. It is a fresh, loving, sad, and joyful look at how one family adjusts to life in a new country. This is a great read from a new voice in historical fiction."
—Karen Dugas, Reviewer, Book-of-the-Month Club
"Christine Simolke's insightful Children of Italy depicts a very personal tale. Family lore...is woven into a deeply felt, sweetly told historical novel."
—Historical Novels Review
A lonely man’s affair with an alluring woman threatens to destroy his beloved family. It’s 1924. Italian immigrant Luigi Falconi has been away from home for twelve years working as a coal miner in West Virginia to carve out what he hopes will be a better life for his family. After years of separation, his wife, Appollonia, and three daughters leave Italy to join him in America. Just before they arrive, Luigi breaks off an affair with his lover, Isolde. Though she knows from the beginning that Luigi will leave her when his family arrives, Isolde cannot accept his decision to abandon her now that the time has come.
While on board the SS Roma as it sails to Ellis Island, Luigi’s eldest daughter, Giovanna, begins her first romance with a member of the crew, Alessandro. When he immigrates to America a short time later, intent on finding her, she has disappeared. No one in the small town of Covel, West Virginia, knows why the Falconi family slipped away under the cloak of darkness. Luigi’s jilted lover is also desperate to find them. Only Appollonia’s brother, Bernandino, knows where they’ve gone, and he, too, has a secret.
As the Falconi family adjusts to being reunited and struggles to assimilate into life in a new country, Alessandro perseveres in his hunt for Giovanna, and his search intersects with the bitter Isolde’s efforts to win Luigi back, with heartbreaking and surprising consequences for all of them.
Christine Simolke is the granddaughter of Italian immigrants. She was inspired by her grandmother’s life story to write a novel of the immigrant experience. She has traveled to countries all over the world and is thankful that her ancestors chose to settle in the United States. She is a former language arts teacher and currently resides in North Carolina with her husband. They are the parents of two wonderful young men. When she is not writing, she's active in non-profit work.
The idea for her book, Children of Italy, was formed many years ago when she wrote a research paper in graduate school based on an interview with her grandmother, Giovanna and stories her great aunt, Evelina told her. Her grandmother and her family immigrated from Italy to America in the 1920s, and Christine and her family were always fascinated by the stories of their voyage to America and their early life in the United States. Their tale of hope, struggle, perseverance and love of family has been an inspiration to all of the generations after them.