The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna


Stella Fortuna's name translates as 'Lucky Star' but events in her life show she is far from that.

This is the story of Stella and how during the course of her life she escaped death seven or eight times (depending on who is counting.)

Is she just unlucky? Is she haunted? or has someone case the Evil Eye on her? And, how did she survive?

Our Review

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is a wonderful piece of storytelling. The writing is at times somewhat circuitous, but I loved it.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is an absorbing read primarily about power plays and politics within a family unit and the repercussions one event in childhood can have.

I loved the opening of The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna:

“This is the story of Mariastella Fortuna the second, called Stella, formerly of Ievoli, a mountain village in Calabria, Italy, and later of Connecticut in the United States of America. Her life stretched over more than a century, and during that life she endured much bad luck and hardship. This is the story of how she never died.”

I like how the author gets straight down to the business of her deaths but then takes her time telling exactly how they came about. So, within the first few pages we know exactly what the causes of near death were but not how they occurred.

“eight near-death experiences – or seven depending on how you count them. She would be bludgeoned and concussed, she would asphyxiate, she would haemorrhage, and she would be lobotomised. She would be partially submerged in boiling oil, be split from belly to bowel on two unrelated occasions, and on a different day have her life saved only by a typo. Once she would accidentally commit suicide.”

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is presented as being written in the form of a memoir by one of her relatives as it is told to her by Stella’s sister and closest relative Concettina or Tina as she was latterly known.

The relationship between the two sisters was a tricky one and rang so true that you could almost believe that they were members of your own family because they seemed so real. Growing up Tina witnessed most of the events described within the book as she was at Stella’s side. However, after what family members referred to as ‘the Accident’ Stella hadn’t spoken to her sister for 30 years.

The person compiling the memoir states they were almost grown before they heard Stella’s story because of the nature of family histories.

“Family memory is a tricky thing; we repeat some stories ourselves until we are bored of them, while others inexplicably fall away. Or maybe not inexplicably, maybe some stories, if remembered would fit too uncomfortably into the present family narrative.”

Tina warns her before they start that some of the parts of the story weren’t nice. It becomes clear later that Stella is seen as the mad one in the family since ‘the Accident’ and has had no problem loudly expressing some of her opinions on her near misses and the reasons why they occurred but no one in the family listens as they think she is mad. Now Tina wants to set the record straight.

“I think finally, after all these years, she wanted to set the record straight. She knew better than anyone else, alive or dead, all of the details, because she had been at Stella’s side the whole time. She has the most at stake – the most compelling reason to tell me the whole truth, but also the most compelling reason to hide it.”

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna holds a lot of charm, not least because of the old-world charm that comes across in the descriptions of the mountain village Stella grew up in. For example, Stella Fortuna translates as Lucky Star but “There’s no better way to bring down the Evil Eye than to brag about your good fortune; a name like Stella Fortune was just asking for trouble. And whether or not you believed in the Evil Eye, you have to admit Stella had plenty of trouble.”

Stella was a very well-written character because despite being smart and talented, she was also flawed, and this made her more believable. Oddly her flaws made me like her more.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna was a vibrant read and I loved it.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4.5/5

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