This was a fabulous read set in NYC in 1908, a opera diva looking for the now grown daughter she hasn't seen in 15 years. It is also the story of a young woman's abusive marriage. I could not put this book down once I started it.
Here is the debut novel by Jacqueline DeJohn, ANTONIO'S WIFE. It takes us into the world of early 1900's New York and the world of Italian Opera, the poverty that was part of life for the newly settled immigrants, and the hatred that was too apparent between the Irish and the Italians. In this story, Opera diva Francesca Frascatti is in search of her long lost daughter Maria, now known to the world as Mina DiGianni, and when Mina finds herself in the employ of this opera diva, it is destiny.
Cesca and her "lover" Dante work together to find her daughter, and when Mina becomes Cesca's assistant, there are clues that make Cesca think this is indeed her daughter. Mina does not know that her mother is still alive, because she was told years ago that her mother had died from illness.
Meanwhile, Mina is married to an abusive Italian man named Antonio, but because of the laws she is afraid to leave him or do anything to upset him. She receives no love from him, as he treats her like his property and spends most of his time in the arms of another woman, Kathleen, the owner of an Irish pub where Antonio spends most of his time.
The plot line is thick with turns and surprises, as Cesca and Dante follow the clues to the missing daughter. They are trying to beat the clock, since Mina's grandfather Emilio, a rich and powerful man from Italy, is also on the trail, hoping to find Mina first. It is a race to the finish, with each chapter more and more exciting. What happens at the very end may or may not surprise the reader, but nevertheless, will keep the readers guessing.
I did enjoy reading this book. The premise of "Antonio's Wife" was that of a diva searching for her child, left in the care of others for many years. Although the story was interesting and well-written, the resolution was unexpected and unsatisfying. I felt rather cheated.
First time I've tried this author. Loved the setting - early 1900's in New York City. Mail order bride from Italy with lots of secrets from her past. Really liked the story with its twists and turns. Characters were well developed. Based loosely on the author's family history. A very enjoyable read.