Giuliana’s Way, by Albert M. Parillo, is a delightful and moving historical fiction novel about an intelligent and gifted Italian girl.
In 1941, when Giuliana Landini was only eleven, she emigrated from Italy to the United States to live with her aunt and uncle in New Haven, Connecticut. Her grandmother and teacher in Italy thought the child was too bright to settle for a normal life in Amalfi and wanted her to have the opportunity to advance her education and opportunities.
Italy left a permanent mark on Giuliana, especially when it comes to cooking. At a young age it’s clear that she has the makings to be a great chef. She came to America to become an architect, but would pursuing that goal force her to give up what really makes her happy: cooking?
From the very beginning it’s hard not to like Giuliana. Even as a young girl it’s easy to see that no matter what path Giuliana chooses, she’ll succeed. She’s not just a survivor, but a fighter with heart and intelligence. At times she seems much more advanced and mature than her actual age, but that’s part of what makes her special. And that’s why her grandmother sent her to America even though it broke her heart to do so.
This story isn’t just about Giuliana. It’s about the sacrifices her family makes to provide opportunities that no one in the family has had previously. This adds another dimension to an already endearing story. It also highlights the plights many immigrants faced when settling in the United States before and during World War II. When the US entered the war, they became Italy’s enemy. This of course had repercussions on Giuliana and her Italian friends and neighbors in New Haven, Connecticut. How does an immigrant assimilate, while maintaining their connections and feelings for their homeland during war? Parillo’s exploration is thought-provoking and engaging.
Giuliana’s Way is an unusual historical fiction novel. The author has magnificently compiled his research to craft a story that pulls the reader in from the start. It’s not a thriller by any means, but it’s hard to deny the irresistible charm of the main character, the story, and the writing. Albeit, the construction of the story might make you forget that Giuliana is a fictional character since at times it reads more like a biography. This story breathes life into all the characters, creating a special connection with the reader.
Parillo’s beautifully written story will enthrall many readers and the descriptions of the food will make your mouth water. Giuliana is the type of admirable character that will stick with many long after closing the book. If you’re in the mood for a historical fiction novel that winds its way from the beautiful coast of Italy to the United States during tumultuous times, give this book a go. It will make you cheer, cry, and day dream about a time long past. Fans may demand that Parillo continue telling Giuliana’s tale. She truly is fascinating, as is Giuliana’s Way.