I received this book for free from the publisher / TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Tale of Lucia Grandi by Susan Speranza
Published by Brook House Press on October 2012
Source: the publisher / TLC Book Tours
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Lucia Grandi is 110 years old and living in a nursing home (?) when she is asked by a young graduate student to tell the story of her life. Lucia goes on to recount what it was like to grow up in the suburbs of Long Island, NY, with a not-so-great-family in the 1950’s and 60’s. Each chapter is memoir-ish, with Lucia describing an incident from her childhood, and how it affected her views of herself and life in general.
The idea behind this book has so much potential. A 110-year-old woman would have seen a lot in her lifetime, and the changes–technologically, socially, and culturally–someone of that age would have seen over 110 years would be extremely interesting to read about within the context of a memoir. Unfortunately, The Tale of Lucia Grandi is not that book, for many reasons. I almost DNF’d this one; I came close to giving up on it more than once. But I agreed to read it and review it for TLC Book Tours, and I would have felt terrible about not holding up my end of the bargain.
The very first thing I had a problem with is the time frame of the book. Lucia Grandi is 110 years old when the book starts…but she was born in 1951. That means the present tense of the book is taking place in 2061? Huh? I guess that’s fine, but books that are told from the future are typically reserved for scifi-ish topics, at least in my experience. This makes me think that the author is writing from her own experiences growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, and didn’t necessarily want to put in the work learning about the early 1900’s (in which it would have made more sense for Lucia to have been born).
But that’s easily overlooked, I guess. My major issue with the book came shortly after that initial confusion, and it continued over all 428 pages…
This book clearly did not have an editor, which is the most unfortunate thing I can think of to happen (or not happen, actually) to a published book.
Although it isn’t explicitly stated on their website, I am assuming that Brook House is a vanity press, meaning that authors pay Brook House to publish their (the authors’) books. I have two related questions for authors who go this route: Who is your intended market? Are you publishing the book for readers’ enjoyment, or are you publishing the book because you want to see it in print with your name on the cover? If you’re having it published because you really think it’s a good book and you really want readers to love it, then please…in the name of everything that is good and right…get yourself an editor. Readers should not have to wade through tons of typos in order to read your book. And from what I understand (please correct me if I’m wrong), Brook House is a print-on-demand publisher; there is absolutely no excuse for so many typos to be present in a book that can be edited from printing to printing.
In The Tale of Lucia Grandi, I put up with misused homophones; sentences that had been changed, but with extra words from the old sentences not edited out; words missing from sentences; two chapters ending with the same two sentences, word-for-word; too many similes; one particular sentiment being repeated over and over, though it didn’t make sense to have it used more than once. It was a very annoying reading experience, but at first, I cut Speranza some slack. I thought maybe it was just the version I was reading–maybe my digital copy wasn’t the finished product (disregarding the fact that even ARCs are typically very close to being a finished product). But then I chatted with a friend who also was having issues reading the book, and she had a paper copy that had the same issues as my digital copy. I was going to give examples of the most annoying typos, but I’ve already spent more time than I wanted to on this book.
And unfortunately, the writing itself in The Tale of Lucia Grandi isn’t good enough to make me forgive what I went through to read it. Speranza over-explains everything, the same ideas/sentiments are presented over and over and over, and the story just doesn’t flow like it should. The book ends abruptly with Lucia at the age of 22 (with no wrap-up of the beginning of the book at all), leading me to believe (along with the title) that this is going to be a series…one that I won’t be reading any more of. I truly don’t understand all of the 4- and 5-star reviews this book has been given on Goodreads.
Again, the idea behind this book has a lot of potential…an editor would do Speranza a world of good.