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Excerpt from The Sicilian Inheritance by Jo Piazza, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Sicilian Inheritance

A Novel

by Jo Piazza

The Sicilian Inheritance by Jo Piazza X
The Sicilian Inheritance by Jo Piazza
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  • Published:
    Apr 2024, 384 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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Print Excerpt

I looked up at him, hoping to see some of the old soft devotion but Jack just seemed annoyed and sad. It was impossible to tell what he resented more, me or the restaurant that stole so much time from him and our marriage.

"Let's go outside," I suggested, not wanting to see my failure through his eyes. A small part of me still hoped La Macellaia would reopen in a new location at some point in the future, but I couldn't see how, not with the mountain of debt we'd taken on, the skyrocketing rent, or the nasty rumors that continued to dog me. I knew I'd made so many mistakes with my restaurant. I'd poured my heart and soul into it, but also my hubris. I'd pushed us to expand and grow too fast to make my investors happy, to make them money. I took on more than I could handle, and in the process, I lost almost everything. Another part of me also hoped, on some days, that with the restaurant gone Jack and I might find a way to work things out. But that seemed more unlikely with each passing day. Our marriage had become merely a bundle of services that neither of us could fulfill well enough for the other.

Once we made it to the sidewalk Jack thrust a handful of mail at me.

"This all came to the house for you," he said. Since we separated Jack had been living with Sophie in our sweet little brick row home, the one we bought together the year we got married. It made sense at first, since I worked most nights and could sleep in the studio over the restaurant. But once La Macellaia closed I'd have nowhere to live.

Mixed in with the overdue bills and junk was the letter I'd been waiting for, a brown envelope scrawled in my aunt Rosie's perfect penmanship, gorgeous cursive that only ancient nuns could beat into you.

I didn't want to open it because the second I did, my aunt Rosie's death would be as real as the end of my business and my career. I knew that the letter contained the last words she never got to tell me in person because I was too busy working to go see her one last time. Yet another regret.

Jack cleared his throat the way he did when he was about to say something I wouldn't like. "I hate the idea of Sophie going to your aunt's funeral. She's too little to learn about death."

"Sorry it bothers you. But please be reasonable, Jack. Sophie adored Aunt Rosie as much as I did." I swallowed my irritation and managed a contrite smile. "And all her cousins will be there. It won't be creepy and morbid. Rosie wanted more of a party than a formal church funeral. It'll be fun for Soph."

"A fun funeral? Who throws a party when they die? Your whole family is nuts. Rosie was nuts." His annoyance had nothing to do with the funeral. He was pissed because he was supposed to leave for vacation with his parents and I was making him wait until Sunday night, after the funeral.

"We've gotta get going, sweetie." I said this to Sophie, but really I was saying it to Jack to let him know our conversation was over. "We've got a two-hour drive up to Scranton and Carla is on her way to get us."

"To visit Aunt Rosie?" Sophie jumped up and down and clapped her hands.

"In a way, my love."

"See, she's too young for this, dammit," Jack said.

"Let me handle it," I said with all the conviction I could muster.

He sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets. "You know I loved her too. Rosie."

"Even though she was nuts?" I asked.

He shot me a regretful smile.

"Especially because of that," he mumbled.

It used to be one of the reasons he loved me too.

It was true that my aunt Rosie didn't want a funeral, but man, that woman could throw a party, even from beyond the grave. She'd made it very clear that she wanted all of her "people," all three of the boys she raised and their families, all the staff at the school where she was the principal for half her life, and pretty much anyone else in town who wasn't "gonna be a crybaby" about her death, to get drunk at her favorite pub to celebrate her.

Excerpted from The Sicilian Inheritance by Jo Piazza. Copyright © 2024 by Jo Piazza. Excerpted by permission of Dutton. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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