Bella Fortuna (Paperback)

By Rosanna Chiofalo

Kensington Publishing Corporation, 9780758266538, 357pp.

Publication Date: August 28, 2012

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Description

In this warm, enchanting debut novel, Rosanna Chiofalo evokes the extraordinary beauty of Venice, the charm of a close-knit New York neighborhood, and the joys of friendship, family, and surprising second chances. . .

Valentina DeLuca has made hundreds of brides' dreams come true. At Sposa Rosa, the Astoria, New York, boutique where she, her sisters, and their mother design and sew couture knock-off gowns, she can find the perfect style for even the most demanding customer. Now, it's her turn. Valentina has loved Michael Carello ever since he rescued her from a cranky shopkeeper when she was ten years old. He's handsome, chivalrous, and loyal. And in a few weeks, she's going to marry him--in Venice.

But just when she thinks everything is falling into place, Valentina is forced to re-examine her life to see what truly makes her happy. And as she soon learns, in a place as magical as Venice, what seems like misfortune can turn out to be anything but, although who knows what may be waiting around the next corner? The chance to enjoy a moonlit gondola ride, to sip Prosecco in St. Mark's Square, to eat mouthwatering gelato, to put aside "sensible" for once and see where the warm Italian breezes guide her as she visits all the sights she's dreamed of: The Doge's Palace, Il Rialto, the little islands of Murano and Burano. And maybe, along the way, to discover that bella fortuna--good luck--isn't what you're given, but what you make.

Advance praise for Bella Fortuna

"Like a gondolier navigating the canals of Venice, Rosanna Chiofalo takes you on a magical ride filled with family and friends, love and loss, heartbreak and happiness. Bella Fortuna is a warm glimpse into Italian-American life." --Holly Chamberlin, author of Last Summer

"Reading Rosanna Chiofalo's depiction of a modern Italian-American family is like digging into a fresh bowl of pasta--warm, welcome, and satisfying. A deeply felt debut that affirms the importance of friends and family--Italian-style." --Lisa Verge Higgins, author of The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship

"From the streets of New York to the canals of Venice, Rosanna Chiofalo creates a warm and lively story the reader won't want to see end. Valentina DeLuca is a heroine with intelligence, heart, and courage, the kind of person every woman wants for a dear friend. Time spent with her is a sheer joy." --Mary Carter, author of The Pub Across The Pond

"Go to Venice. Ride a gondola. See St. Mark's square. Chase the pigeons. Then go back to your hotel room overlooking a canal, take out Bella Fortuna, and read. It will make your whole day perfetto." --Cathy Lamb, author of A Different Kind of Normal


About the Author

Rosanna Chiofalo is the author of Bella Fortuna, Carissima, Stella Mia, Rosalia's Bittersweet Pastry Shop, and The Sunflower Girl. An avid traveler, she enjoys setting her novels in the countries she's visited. Her novels also draw on her rich cultural background as an Italian American. When she isn't traveling or daydreaming about her characters, Rosanna keeps busy testing out new recipes in her kitchen and tending to her ever-growing collection of houseplants. She lives in New York City with her husband.


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. Do you feel that Valentina has truly been “cursed in love” asshe proclaims in the opening chapter of Bella Fortuna? Do youfeel that she’s been unlucky in general in life?
  2. How is Valentina different from her mother in her beliefs ofthe mighty malocchio or evil eye? How are they alike in theirbeliefs of good versus bad luck?
  3. How does Michael fit the knight-in-shining-armor stereotypewhere Valentina is concerned? Do you think that is a large reasonwhy Valentina falls in love with him?
  4. Do you agree with Aldo’s assessment that Valentina has putMichael on such a high pedestal and that no one can live up tosuch high expectations? Does that make it easier to forgiveMichael’s transgressions later? Do you feel that Valentina’s expectationsof Michael are unrealistic?
  5. Discuss the concept of “forgive and forget” and the pros andcons of either forgiving and forgetting or not forgiving andholding on to a grudge. Do you feel that Valentina is justifiedin her refusal to forgive Tracy when she sees her at her shop?Do you feel that Valentina was harsh? How might Valentinahave handled the situation with Tracy in her shop differently?
  6. Valentina is close to her family. But we also see she has a specialrelationship with her neighbors and the people in herneighborhood. Which is your favorite neighbor and why?Which is your least favorite neighbor and why? Do you feelthat the neighbors are an extended family for Valentina?
  7. What are Valentina’s views on friendship with women? Do youfeel that her views were shaped by Tracy’s betrayal when theywere in high school?
  8. Valentina and Aldo share a very close friendship and bond.How are they alike and/or different?
  9. For most women, weddings are a milestone, and they wanttheir big day to be perfect. Do you feel that Valentina hasplaced too much importance on having the perfect weddingwith Michael? Do you think Valentina is guilty of falling morein love with the notion of getting married than falling in lovewith Michael?
  10. What does Valentina’s wedding dress symbolize for her? Whatdoes the dress symbolize for her mother? Do you agree withMichael after he has walked in on her gown fitting that sheshould drop the shorter front hem of her dress? What do youthink are his real motives in wanting a more traditional dressfor Valentina?
  11. Do you believe that Sonia, the teenage fortune-teller Oliviagoes to see, truly has “the power”?
  12. Do you think it was wise for Valentina to go to Venice after herengagement to Michael is broken? How does the trip hinderher initially from moving on with her life? How does it helpher come to terms with what she’s lost?
  13. How is Stefano different from Michael? Why do you thinkValentina falls for him?
  14. After Valentina returns to New York and visits Tracy’s mother,she learns that Tracy seems to have changed her ways. Did youfeel compassion for Tracy? Was it easier to understand her actionstoward Valentina when they were in high school?
  15. What did you think of Valentina’s enormous gesture of givingTracy’s mother her wedding dress? Do you feel that her actionhas truly brought her peace?
  16. Valentina regrets not having forgiven Tracy. Do you think sheshould have been more understanding toward Michael whenhe reveals the secret he’d been keeping from her? Why do youthink she is not ready to forgive him? Do you think she everwill? Do you think they can ever be friends?
  17. How are Valentina’s wedding plans to Stefano different fromher plans for her first wedding? Do you feel that she’s grown?
  18. What did you think of her choice in wedding gown for herwedding to Stefano? Did you like it more than the dress shewas supposed to wear to her wedding with Michael? Whichgown do you feel represented accurately who she was?
  19. How do Valentina’s relationships with Michael and Stefanomirror her mother’s relationships with her first love, Salvatore,and her husband, Nicola? How much did fate play a role inwhom they fell in love with?
  20. Olivia shares with Salvatore what Connie has told her about theCherokee Indians’ belief that each stage of our lives—childhood,adolescence, adulthood, and old age—is a different life, almostlike a reincarnation. Do you agree with this Cherokee belief?How has Olivia reinvented herself in every stage of her life?How has Valentina?
  21. How have Olivia’s views on bad luck changed toward the endof the novel? How have Valentina’s changed?
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