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Antonio's Wife    by Jacqueline DeJohn order for
Antonio's Wife
by Jacqueline DeJohn
Order:  USA  Can
Regan, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Antonio's Wife, transports readers to another era, the early 1900s world of opera. Diva Francesca (Cesca) Frascatti travels to America, hoping to make amends to the daughter (Maria Grazia) she abandoned in Italy. Francesca is portrayed as talented and resilient, essentially kind and warm-hearted. She fights for her beliefs and supports her friends, black ring-fighter Jack Johnson and his white fiancée.

Detective Dante Romano poses as Cesca's lover to assist in the search for the diva's daughter. Mina DiGianni, 'Antonio's Wife' is a lace maker by profession, who works as the diva's dresser. With an abusive husband (Antonio DiGianni) and secrets of her own, Mina is apprehensive but also astute, stashing away funds in a secret hiding place for a possible escape. She is attracted to Dante on first meeting. 'But choices are made, one pays a price' is Mina's belief. Priests offer platitudes when she seeks advice about leaving her marriage - 'be meek, Mina', they say. Mina holds in her heart 'hope in facing the past and embracing the future.' Kathleen, bar-owner and Antonio's lover, is feisty, wanton and ruthless. Mario is a faithful friend to Antonio, who longs for Mina. Wealthy Don Emilio appears as a man of mystery and a threat to the status quo; Francesca Frascatti knows him from her life in Italy.

Written with energy, Antonio's Wife has a strong premise and suitably operatic plot, with good character development. The author demonstrates an exceptional use of words, as in 'The most important element for a happy life is not money or fame, but love. Love shared, no matter what the relationship, is the catalyst that transforms a barren existence and fills an empty heart.' Antonio's Wife is indeed a heartwarming novel, leading to a realization of dreams and a successful 'destino'.

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