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The Godmothers    by Camille Aubray order for
by Camille Aubray
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2021 (2021)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Camille Aubray, author of Cooking for Picasso, brings fans another engrossing historical in The Godmothers, set in Greenwich Village, before, during and after World War II. Her novel follows four very different women, the daughter and daughters-in-law of a wealthy Italian family. Though they have little in common at first, they become godmothers to each other's children and family secrets soon bind them close.

The novel begins in 1980, when one of those children, Nicole, needs to find out whether the family has any skeletons in its closet, as her husband is being considered for a State Department job. She asks her godmother. Answers take readers back to the 1930s, where readers follow each woman's story thread separately until they interweave and finally knot together. Eight-year-old Filomena was given into servitude in Naples by her Italian family to pay off a debt. It was a hard childhood but she became close to her cousin Rosamaria. Then came the war. Rosa arranged with a matchmaker to wed Mario (youngest son of the Italian family) in America. When a bomb killed Rosa, Filomena assumed her identity and tickets, and left Italy.

Irish Lucy was a nurse in New York. She delivered a baby for a gangster's girlfriend and then kept Chris herself, rather than giving him up for adoption. She pretends her husband died in the war. Lucy marries Mario's older brother Frankie. Also in New York, readers meet Amie and her abusive husband Brunon. Amie falls in love with Johnny (the eldest brother), who helps her out of serious trouble. Doing so puts the family in debt to a gangster. The family's only daughter, Petrina graduated with honors from Barnard College and married Richard, whose privileged family wanted nothing to do with hers. Richard never stood up to them, and they eventually divorced.

The women all come together to help their husbands when needed. They solve problems in the family business - tangling with big-time gangsters to do so - when the men are away at war. Each has her strength and these talents are powerful when combined. Together, they keep their children safe and all their skeletons in the closets where they belong.

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