I've had Teresa Neumann's Bianca's Vineyard for a while now, thanks to my grandmother, but have been skipping over it to read other books. I don't know why I did this because it was actually a great read. Neumann is a local author who decided to write a novel about family history. The majority of the novel is based on factual evidence and personal family interviews. There is one portion, which I won't give away, that is only speculated at by Neumann, but what she does choose to speculate is a highly probably scenario.
The book is written in a way that suggests it is being told to the reader, as well as Egisto's son and his wife, through flashbacks from Bianca in her 80's. We know this because the font and boldness of these sections gives personal reflection from Bianca and foreshadows what she will eventually reveal. She takes you back to the beginning of what changed the course for this family, mainly one brother of the Bertozzi family moving to America in order to help his Italian family, and continues to present day.
Moving to America is a big deal at this time in history (1913) and Egisto, the brother moving, must find a wife before he leaves. He's had his heart set on a specific woman but, after her father veto's Egisto's decision to marry outside of the Church, he must come up with an alternative. This decision alters the family in unseen ways.
We follow the the Bertozzi family through good, prosperous times and through absolutely desolate, terrible times (mainly World War Two and mental breakdowns). We also come to learn about Egisto's wife and her family. All of this plays importantly into the people of this novel.
Bianca's Vineyard is a novel that portrays the human condition and family ties beautifully. I was surprised by how much I actually liked this book and would not hesitate recommending it to others. Good choice, Grandma!