Many of you have asked for an update about my second novel The Ascent. It is coming along nicely with a few snags. I have reached an impasse with a section of my research, but as it turns out that piece of information will not be necessary until the third book. I wanted to thank all of you for purchasing my first novel, Between the Cracks, and to invite you to take a sneak peek into the first few pages. If you have read the first novel and know the characters post any suggestions or comments. Happy Holidays and enjoy the sneak preview. The excerpt is below.
Messina after the 1908 earthquake
Angela stood in the kitchen of her fifteen room Queen Anne Victorian home on Morning Glory Avenue. It had been twenty two years since she had experienced the 1908 earthquake in Messina, Sicily. Her sister, aunt, and grandmother had perished in the disaster. At the time of the earthquake Angela had been an orphan; both parents had died in their early twenties. Angela and her brother, Antonio, were sent to live with their grandmother, while her younger sister, Maria, was sent to live with an aunt. The earthquake had finished her family and now she was standing in a big house without a family to fill it. A few years after she had emigrated from Sicily, Angela had fallen ill with a high fever. Her uterus had ruptured and the doctors had to remove it, ending her dream of having children.
Angela moved to the dining room and surveyed the dining room table as if it were an artist’s canvas. The white linen table cloth made the room feel fresh and hopeful. An empty crystal bowl with white candlesticks on either side stood in the center of the table like place holders, waiting for the next gathering to occur. She walked to the buffet and gazed at a photograph of her sister-in-law, Speranza; a tall thin young woman with sunken cheeks peered out from underneath a 1920s style hat and dress. A holy card of the Blessed Mother leaned on the side of the framed photograph. Angela had placed it there so that Speranza was protected by Mary. She had made the ensemble for Speranza’s engagement party ten years ago. When Angela came to America in 1913, Speranza was nine years old and in need of guidance. Angela had lost her sister, so she set her intentions on caring for Speranza, in turn, Speranza helped her learn English.
A few months ago, Speranza suddenly died from a heart ailment. It was a blow that would stay with Angela until she passed from this life. Angela removed the card and leaned it on a nearby crystal bowl and picked up the photograph. Next to Speranza was her husband Salvatore. He had a vacant stare that communicated to the viewer that he was either occupied elsewhere, or he hid who he was. Angela still had Speranza’s three children to care for, but they were not her blood. Angela returned the photograph and holy card back to its original place. Franco’s chair was to the left of the buffet. Angela had made the chair cover with a rose motif material. Franco’s body had made an impression on the worn cushions a ghost of his form that Angela sometimes mistook for Franco. Pipes encrusted with tobacco dangling from a pipe holder like small sculptures sat on a table next to the chair. The room reeked of stale tobacco.
Angela turned and admired the black marble fireplace and two sets of sliding oak French doors. One set lead to her sitting room and the other opened to a spacious hallway with a winding staircase. She gazed at the tapestry of Vatican City that hung over the fireplace; St. Peter’s Basilica stood in the center like a fortress. Franco had purchased it on their 1929 trip to Sicily. They had returned to Messina hoping to find out what had happened to Angela’s sister Felicita`. Unfortunately, there was no documentation about her death or survival, so Angela returned to New York without any closure about her sister’s fate. Every time she looked at the tapestry, she was reminded about the nebulous part of her life, and the lingering sense that her sister existed in a space between life and death. This is God’s version of purgatory for me, thought Angela. She was not allowed the heaven she thought would befall her once she came to America.