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?
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Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana are all immigrants from the old country - Italy. It is 1918 in Boston, Massachusetts. and the Italians are still segregating themselves from Americans, and each other. Three young women try to make a life for themselves and their families in this new world full of ideas, and innovation.
Julietta is a seamstress for Madame Fortier's elite dress shop. A seductive young woman, she is a firm believer that men need to have the privilege of her presence, and is quite reckless in her way with men. This erroneous way of thinking soon gets her in trouble, and before long she is faced with the biggest problem of her young life. Will she realize the danger in time?
Annamaria is a shy, obedient young woman, and all she has in her future is a life of servitude to her family. Also a seamstress of Madame Fortier's, she is quiet and afraid to step out of the life that she believes she is destined for. But when she has an encounter with the grocer's son; from the wrong family, she has a choice. Follow her heart, or take care of her family as is expected of the eldest daughter?
Luciana is a young, Roman woman fleeing from a certain past, and she ends up looking for work at Madame Fortier's shop. Keeping her secrets from the girls at the shop, she comes and goes in almost complete silence. When she is chosen to take care of a particularly difficult client, she meets a young man that gives her hope for the future. Will she be able to begin anew in the new country where hope and new beginnings are promised?
The omnipresent viewpoint of this novel was actually a refreshing change for me. It was different than what I am used to, but it did cause me to spend a week in my journal writing the same way! I was very pleased to learn about the early beginnings of Italians in America, and I never realized how they kept themselves apart even in the new country. It goes to show that at one time or another, everyone has unreasonable prejudices against others for no reason other than pride. An eye-opening novel to the things that matter the most. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1.
A Heart Most Worthy follows the lives of three young Italian women who all work in a dressmakers’ shop, each plying their own highly refined and specialized skills. There seems to be a bit of a popular trend in Christian historical fiction following the lives of Italians in New York in the early 1900s, so if you’ve read one of those books recently, you’ll have a good idea of the settings contained within.
Now, normally I LOVE Siri Mitchell’s work. She is on my list of authors who I must read when a new work comes out. So, I was very disappointed that A Heart Most Worthy just isn’t up to the level of the fine writing she has presented in her other titles. She Walks in Beauty is an absolutely amazing book, and I was hoping that Mitchell would write something comparable in her latest novel.
Unfortunately the diversity of characters, the omniscient point of view of the narrator (whom actually sound quite condescending although I’m sure those asides are meant to be humorous), and the shallow treatment of the subject matter and character development all left me wanting.
My favorite character was Annamaria, her love story is so sweet and actually fairly realistic. Julietta never did really seem to grow up, and Luciana’s romance never addressed the Catholic/Protestant divide, as so many Christian novels seem to be doing recently. The ethnic/perceived class conflict was addressed, but the spiritual gulf was just totally glossed over, and even ignored, which is incredibly inaccurate historically.
From another author I may not have been as disappointed. But from Siri Mitchell? I’m afraid I was. Please, please, don’t write from an omniscient point of view again, it really does jerk the reader right out of the story when the narrator pops in with some odd comments that don’t really move the story along or tell the reader anything that they can’t figure out by inference.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this title.
Three Italian immigrant lives intertwine in Boston with the backdrop of WWI as love is gained and lost. A beautiful story that Siri Mitchell really hits her stride in. She has discovered a niche in historical fiction. One of the things I love about her best is that everything doesn't always end up perfect but she wraps it all up beautifully! Three very different Italian young women are finding their way through life and love in America with some help (and hindrance) from each other. There is a little mystery along the way and it is masterfully worked together. Excellent book.
A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell--A Bethany House Book Review
In 1918 Boston. three seamstresses dare to dream of a better life.
FIREY 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?
I find myself drawn to Historical Fiction mostly because I love history and A Heart Most Worthy didn't disappoint. Siri Mitchell's description of 1918 Boston brought the setting to life. The characters were well developed and came to life before my very eyes and I found them to be very likable. As I came to know the girls I found that there were times I wanted to scold them, or to council them, and there were even times I wanted to let them cry on my shoulder.
Julietta Giordano is young and full of dreams of love. Her mother wants her to marry Mauro, a long time family friend, and the community doctor, but Julietta wants something more exciting. When she meets Angelo she thinks she has found what she has been dreaming of, but is Angelo and his anarchist politics what she wants?
Annamaria Rosi, is the oldest daughter of the Rosi family from Avellinesi, Italy and is expected to set aside her dreams of marriage because her family expects her to care for her family. But, Annamaria has fallen in love with Rafaello Zanfini, the son of a Sicilian, but Sicilian's were hated, and not to be associated with. When the Spanish Influenza sweeps over the city, as well as, the country, it hits the Rosi home hard. As a result, the Rosi family learns what it means to love your neighbor.
Luciana Conti left Rome with her grandmother, the Contessa, hoping to escape the people who assassinated her father. She found a job as a beader at Madame Fortier's shop. Where she meets and works with Julietta, and Annamaria. This is also where she meets Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Fortier's best clients.
Siri Mitchell also includes a historical note that gives the reader more information about the history of early 1900's Italy and Boston.
**A Heart Most Worthy Written by Siri Mitchell was provided to me free by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.
I really enjoyed the last book I read by Siri Mitchell, so I was very excited to see another of her novels appear on my list of books up for review. And I was not disapponted!
A Heart Most Worthy follows the story of three seamstresses living in Boston in 1918. They are each so very different from each other, although they have one thing in common - they are Italian. The book follows each of the women as they face their past and family traditions, and try to forge futures for themselves during a time when life for immigrants in America was anything but easy.
Although it took me a while to get to know everyone in each of the girl's lives, I found it was worth forging through the first few chapters to delve into a wonderful story. It is filled with history, and I learned a lot about life for immigrants during the time period. It takes a while for all the threads of the tale to wind together, but once they do, they create a rich story that you will be glad you took the time to read!
Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book for review!
A Heart Most Worthy is centered around three young Italian-American women during the early 1900's in Boston. The first, Julietta, is a passionate young lady looking for love in all the wrong places. The second, Annamaria, is shy and trusting but falls for a man whom her parents don't approve. Finally, Luciana, who immigrated from Italy with her grandmother, is hiding because she fears the men that killed her father and mother in Italy are after her and her grandmother.
This book is full of many twists and turns and you are always wondering if they find the men they are supposed to in the end. I did not enjoy this book as much as I hoped to. I did not like how the author randomly (in my opinion) used third person when talking about the women. It was distracting to the flow of the story. It was interesting, however, that the women's stories in the book intertwined. I found Annamaria's story to be very good. The prejudice her family showed to the man she loved was ended when his family was the one to help Annamaria's family in a time of great need. Through sorrow, her family became forgiving and accepting. This book is full of love, a little adventure, forgiveness, sorrow and in the end, joy.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
A Heart Most Worthy is the story of three young women employed in Madame Fortier’s dress shop in 1918. The setting of Boston during this time of many Italians having emigrated to North America is the backdrop for a novel that slowly reveals the stories behind these three intriguing characters' quest for the American Dream.
Although Annamaria, Luciana, and Julietta have a different set of circumstances, they are drawn together in their struggle to survive in a time of American History when being Italian was a mark against a person. And, at the conclusion of the book, the reader finds that each young woman learns the same lesson.
Thank you Bethany House for allowing me the opportunity to read this wonderful book…
I found Madame Fortier, Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana to be compelling characters, each with intriguing stories. However, the omniscient POV used repeatedly, kept yanking me out of the story and kept me feeling distant from the characters, unable to really connect with them. The plot, pacing, and the historical details were all very good, but the POV really was a stumbling block to my ability to enjoy this book. Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for my review copy.
Siri Mitchell delivers yet another stunning historical novel with her newest release, A Heart Most Worthy. The year is 1918 in the bustling metropolis of Boston. For the rich, Boston overflows with grandeur and wealth; for immigrants, life is defined by hard lives, hardships, and hard work. A Heart Most Worthy follows the lives of three young immigrant women working in Madame Fortier's prestigious dress shop. Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana each have very distinct personalities and each face their own stuggles, but they are united by their common dream of a better life and the possibility of true love.
A Heart Most Worthy is a novel most worthy of praise and a prominent place on one's bookshelf. Siri Mitchell employs a clear and unique narrator's voice throughout the novel. The effect is engaging, charming, and conversational without being overly casual. Rather than remaining an outsider, the narrator invites the reader into her confidence, almost like telling a tale in her parlor. The narrator's omniscent perspective, also allows the reader a personal relationship with each of the main characters. Each young woman's story is separate and distinct, but Mitchell masterfully weaves them together into a cohesive novel.
Like Mitchell's other historical novels, A Heart Most Worthy is characterized by vivid descriptions and historical details. This quality makes the novel realistic and memorable. I was particularly impressed by the detailed depictions of the dresses created in Madame Fortier's dress shop. To view such elegant hand-work in real life would be awe-inspiring. As it is, I am captivated by the beautiful creation featured on the cover art work. It is the perfect first impression for an equally well-crafted novel.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers for giving me this book to read and review. It was a pleasure to read. This book is considered a historical fiction and it lived up to that title. I felt a deeper understanding of the Great Italian Emigration to America during the early 1900's. The lifestyles, their way of thinking, their religion, and their struggles. I also really like the way it was written; as an "omniscient point of view". It was very well done and different than the way most books are written and I enjoyed it very much.
This was a story of 3 young ladies working in Boston in 1918 in Madame Fortier's dress shop. You get to know and understand where each of the girls live, how they think, what they are going through and how each of them handle "falling in love". Julietta in the outspoken one who has great plans and "loves" a little too easily. Annamaria is the quiet one who feels she has no future where love and marriage are concerned. And Luciana is the one with a secretive past that could bring danger to anyone who gets close to her. You will enjoy getting to know each one of these girls and their lifestyles. Even Madame Fortier has a history you will come to understand.
Although this book was not a page turner for me where I couldn't stop reading to see what happened next, I did find myself enjoying the story and learning something of a time in history that I had very little knowledge of. It was a very satisfying book to me.
Wow! This book is like a sweet Vidalia onion that's been caramelized - lots of layers and all full of yummy goodness. I could analyze this for pages and pages but I'll try and restrain myself. ;o) It starts with the cover. Isn't it drool-worthy? I'm in total envy over that dress.
The author tackles surface issues like the the problems the Italian immigrants faced both from outsiders and from their own prejudices against other Italians. Tradition and family was all many of them had but sometimes the same stubborn pride that helped them survive in this new country insulated them and even caused them to refuse help they needed.
What makes a healthy relationship? What is most important in love? All the main characters struggle with this on some level or another. Whether it's 1918 or 2011, people still mistake lust for love, they still think they're unworthy for whatever reason, they still fear what will happen if they trust... and sometimes they think it's too late once they've made mistakes. Sometimes people try to manipulate people and call it love.
Then you have the political undertones. People who think violence is the way to bring about change and that the government should do whatever they want. People who don't mind stealing, killing or dying in order to make their plans come to fruition. It sounds eerily like what is going on here and around the world. Yet you meet them and sympathize with them and want to be able to help them see what they're doing is hurting themselves and others.
The three main characters couldn't be more different. Add in the Madame Fortier and you have four women who will stay with me for some time. They loved deeply, made mistakes, kept secrets, and showed a tenacity of spirit that made me love them all. From the beginning to end you can see each of them grow and change in individual ways that reflected the personal journey each had to take.
There were also some yummy heroes that you won't want to miss. Each had his own strengths (and weaknesses) that perfectly matched the girl he was destined to be with. Some had unflappable faith and determination, some patience that would try a saint, some were self-sacrificing... and some were forgiving and generous. All were romantic because true romance is loving in a way that brings out the best in them and is concentrated on their needs instead of your own.
This is going on my list of best books of 2011. I want to thank Bethany House for providing me my copy in exchange for my honest review.
What first captured my interest as I began reading Siri Mitchell’s, A Heart Most Worthy? The characters! The stars of this book are by no means flat. Each character has their own unique way of being. They leap off the pages and straight into the heart. I love that!
While I’m not a fan of first person fiction or of a large amount of interruptive ‘narration’, I stubbornly kept reading A Heart Most Worthy. I had to know how things turned out for each character. What we readers crave is an emotional experience. And Siri Mitchell grants this to the reader if by no other reason than her unique and wonderfully crafted characters. But wait! Siri’s historical detail is spot on. If you’re a bit of a stickler about the historical detail/setting in historical fiction, you needn’t fret about this book. Siri Mitchell’s grasp of historical detail sets a vivid backdrop for this story.
There is much to learn from the three Italian immigrant beauties, Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana in this story. Their struggles and faith in God as they endure immigrant life in 1918 Boston inspires all Christians to keep the faith and hold on to their dreams. Will these ladies find what they most seek? Well, to learn that, you must read the book. And trust me; A Heat Most Worthy is well worth the read!
I enjoyed reading this story. It truly is inspirational. A great read on a Saturday night!
Special Notice: I received this book as a free review copy from Bethany House.
It is 1918 in Boston, Mass. Three seamstresses from different families seek a better life for themselves. Their lives are bound with culture and what is proper that vary, even though they are all the same nationality. They all work in a upper class dress shop in Boston, doing different jobs. Julietta wants to forsake her Italian upbringing and be American. Why does her family not understand she is not like them? AnnaMaria is shy, obedient and always does what is expected of her. She struggles against the desires of her heart to be married and have a family, but knows she is expected to stay single to care for her family, until her parents die. Luciana hold secrets that could bring danger to them, but she cannot hide forever, unless she wants to starve. Can she escape danger and maybe make some new friends?
As someone who is descended from Italian Immigrants, I found this story so fascinating! Actually, since I know my grandmother's side is Sicilian....we would have been somewhat ostracized. That was something new to me! I loved this story! Ms. Mitchell has such a way of weaving history of little known facts, into her stories. She makes you live with her characters and you really wonder if things will go well for them. It opens a new look onto the Great Italian Immigration and facts about the Spanish Influenza as well. I had no idea that people died from the Influenza mostly because they were too weak to go get food and water. This is just one of the many facts you will learn in this wonderful story! Another winner from Ms. Mitchell and Bethany House Publishers. This copy was received from Bethany House Reviewer Program and these statements are my own and I am not paid to write them.
This book was just as good as the others that Siri Mitchell has written. The characters were all very well developed and the plot was intricate and exciting. Mrs. Mitchell excels at historical fiction, and this book is evidence of that. There are so many lessons that can be learned from this book-among them is the reminder to be who God called you to be,and not who the world wants you to be. The book was so encouraging and sweet.
A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell is a historical romance with both depth and heart. Three very different Italian young woman work for famed dressmaker Madame Fortier in Boston at the end of World War I. Juliana Giordano revels in her beauty and wants romance in her life, and Angelo Moretti's smoldering brown eyes are filled with both romance and a hint of danger, making him much more attractive than Mauro Vitali, a doctor she's known most of her life. Annamaria Rossi is beginning to strain against the limited existence in which her position as eldest daughter has placed her. Expected to serve the entire family and never marry, she is open to the invitation she sees in the eyes of Rafaello Zanfini, the Sicilian vegetable stand owner's son, but he is forbidden, first because she must never leave the family, and second because he is Sicilian. Luciana Conti fled her estate and wealth in Rome after the assassination of her father, the Count of Rome, bringing only her grandmother, the contessa, whose mind has drifted away since the tragic night that left them homeless, poor, and hunted by the anarchist who has promised to kill them both. Luciana thought to find safety in America, but she has seen the man here again, on her very street, making every day filled with fear. Mitchell has turned from writing humorous chick lit to intelligent historical romances, but she brings the same light dexterous touch to these novels, filling them with fascinating heroines, strong heroes, and interesting conflicts. She truly brings to life each of these women and makes the reader empathize with each, even Juliana's flirtation with danger. Mitchell reminds readers of the terrible prejudice against Italians at the beginning of the twentieth century, as well as the danger of the anarchists who were creating terror through bombs and assassinations around the world. Somehow Mitchell manages to throw together the prejudice, anarchy, romance, faith, gown-making, and the Spanish Influenza together to make a compelling story readers will be hard-pressed to put down.
This is only the second book I've read of Siri's. After finishing them both, I would say that she excels at historical fiction.
Although full of details, A Heart Most Worthy doesn't feel like you're cramming for an exam with more facts than your brain can handle. Easily weaving the facts of a bygone era with vibrant characters, Siri's story is one you'll keep thinking of even after you finish the last chapter.
There are times in the book, that feels like a narrator is telling you the story. Sometimes it made sense and was enjoyable to read...other times, I felt it didn't fit and only interrupted the flow of the story.
For example, you are reading from one of the girl's perspective when the 'narrator' jumps in and says, 'You may not have done what she did, but don't be so quick to judge,' or something like that. Different. And, sporadic. Hadn't ever read a book that did it quite that way before. Not necessarily unlikeable, but definitely different.
FYI, the 'Christianity' in the book is Catholic, as each of the three main characters are Italian immigrants and the time period, early 1900's. I am quite sure that the Catholic bent is historically accurate of that time, place, and people, however, as a born again believer, I did not enjoy the many scenes of confession and crossing ourselves.