Carmela Cattuti Books

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Between the Cracks: one woman's journey from Sicily to America

by Carmela Cattuti

Join Angela Lanza as she experiences the tumultuous world of early 20th century Sicily and New York. Orphaned by the earthquake and powerful eruption of Mt. Etna in 1908, Angela is raised in the strict confines of an Italian convent. Through various twists of fate, she is married to a young Italian man whom she barely knows, then together with her spouse, immigrates to the U.S.

LuAnn's review of Between the Cracks

Jan 16, 2015


really liked it

bookshelves: 2015-challenge 


The 'common' man (or in this case woman) is not usually a subject in literature and movies. We want experiences in entertainment that are thrilling (Red), fantastical (Fantasia) and out of this world (Guardians of the Galaxy). And just for the record, I loved each one of those movies.

Thank goodness Ms. Cattuti has seen fit to buck that trend and show us there is much in the 'ordinary' lie to be celebrated. Between the Cracks is all the more wonderful because it is based on the life of the author's great-aunt. But there's ordinary and then there's ordinary. In the book, Angela is the sole survivor from her immediate family of the earthquake and eruption of the Etna volcano in the early 20th century.

And let's face it. Back in those days, you did not zip across the ocean on the Concorde, or jet to Paris for lunch. People crossed the ocean by boat and it took at least a week. (I know this because apparently my ancestors have been crossing the Atlantic one way or the other for generations.)

Angela is a sympathetic character. She is left alone in the world at a young age, and raised in a convent. When Franco, an American of Sicilian birth, wants a wife, he returns to the old country to find one. And where does one find a virtuous young woman? In a convent. Angela is all the more attractive to Franco because she has no family, and he will not have to worry about her becoming homesick when he brings her to America.

Ms. Cattuti has a fine hand in the choice of her words. Bad things have happened to Angela, but she is not a victim. She shows us that even though our lives may not be played out in the pages and on the covers of checkstand magazines, that each person has a value of their own. I may never have the effect of a Mother Teresa, but I do alright with my own family. 

We all live lives capable of falling Between the Cracks, but what we choose to do with our lives can lift us to the extra-ordinary. Wrapping us in the comfort and warmth of a favorite heirloom quilt, Ms. Cattuti's book inspires me to gather more information about my ancestors to add to my family's story

The Ascent

by Carmela Cattuti

A novel based on true happenings

The sequel to Carmela Cattuti’s first novel, “Between the Cracks,” this story invites the reader to accompany Angela Lanza as she builds her life in America during the first half of the 20th century. A Sicilian immigrant, she manages to assimilate into the social life of a small town outside of New York City. Through the horrors of war, domestic tragedy, and raising her sister-in-law’s children, hers is a successful immigrant experience. Angela seeks to transcend organized religion and develop her spirituality. She is able to influence three generations of Americans through her  artistic sensibility and a sharpened intuition. The book parallels America’s growth with Angela’s growing sense of who she is in the world.

Reviewed By Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite

The Ascent: A Novel Based on True Happenings brings Angela Lanza to life as she comes to America and adjusts to her new life away from the Sicily she knew. Angela is the force that keeps her family and friends together through good times, hardships, war, death and life. Angela has established herself as a very talented dressmaker, creating clothes for the rich ladies of the neighborhood as well as the ones who are not so well off. Through her friends and family we learn about the times of the day, the awful things happening in Europe and the approaching war. When Angela’s sister dies at a young age, she tries to be there for her three children, as well as caring for her home and husband.

The Ascent paints a picture of the times of the day in a elegant manner, presenting both good and bad, and gives a very real feel of the ambiance of the early 20th century. I found The Ascent to be both happy and sad and though at times it was a little leisurely paced, the overall story made me keep reading long into the night. While I did not read the first book, Carmela Cattuti did a wonderful job of filling in the holes and never left me confused about what was going on and what important things of the past I may not have known. The Ascent is a perfect example of a historical novel and is a book I found to be well worth reading.

Carmela Cattuti started her writing career as a journalist for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. After she finished her graduate work in English Literature from Boston College she began to write creatively and taught a journal writing course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write her great aunt's story. “Between the Cracks” has gone through several incarnations and will now become a trilogy. This is the first installment. The second book will be available shortly.To connect with Carmela email her

The novel can be purchased on Amazon. Click the below link.

Power Point Presentation about the book is below.

Thoroughly enjoyed both books by Carmella Cattuti. I grew up with Carmella and she brought back lovely memories with her beautiful words. Looking forward to her next book! Thank you Carmella!!  Ann Collona

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