Marie Genovese looks out from her apartment window above the Five & Ten and wonders how she’ll save the failing store she’s inherited from her mother. In a historical moment overshadowed by fear, economic uncertainty, and the controlling behavior of men, a powerful line of women-living and dead-helps Marie navigate her path to independence.
With the realist detail of Sinclair Lewis and the modern, feminist sensibility of Elena Ferrante, Italian Love Cake is the account of a woman thwarted in her self-expression and autonomy. Gail Reitano sets the story in a deeply patriarchal culture, but boundaries between masculine power and feminine exaltation are blurred and frequently crossed. In this Depression-era portrait of a first-generation Italian-American woman, Marie Genovese asserts her own mind, and her sexuality, on the way to achieving her economic dreams.