PositiveThe AtlanticWhile [the novel\'s] approach could seem self-serving at times, the novel’s earnest tone buffers such a perception. Family history is \'a privilege\' .... In...Cohen’s [novel], the very uncertainty of the past gives these legacies their power. Old stories acquire new meaning when their narrators change ... By piecing together the \'truth\' of their forebears’ stories, these characters come to better understand themselves.
PositiveThe AtlanticBackboned by a familiar immigration narrative, the novel follows Stella through her near-death experiences from southern Italy to suburban Connecticut, revealing a woman who, to her family’s frustration, has always been fiercely headstrong and independent ... Her resistance to being \'mastered\' permeates the story ... Ironically, though, the novel itself is in some ways an act of mastery. It’s a chronicle of Stella’s life that is mediated and controlled by the narrator, who not only bookends Stella’s saga with present-day scenes, but also occasionally inserts herself into the story to offer commentary or flash forward ... The novel reads like a fable, its language often formal and overdramatized, as if to convey a sense of timelessness ...the novel’s focus on establishing meaning for Stella’s life—and, moreover, for the narrator’s—comes to outweigh its stated goal of reclaiming the older woman’s reputation.