In 1943 New Orleans, Rose Marino lives with her Sicilian immigrant parents and helps in the family grocery store. Her older brother and sister both joined the Army, and Rose prays for their safety as World War II rages overseas. Her parents expect Rose to marry a local boy and start a family. But she secretly dreams of being more like her fiercely independent widowed godmother. Behind her parents’ back, Rose lands a job at the shipyard, where she feels free and important for the first time in her life. When the parish priest organizes a goodwill mission to visit Italian prisoners of war at a nearby military base, Rose and her vivacious best friend Marie join the group. There, Rose falls for Sal, a handsome and intelligent POW. Italy has switched sides in the war, so the POWs are allowed out to socialize, giving Rose and Sal a chance to grow closer.
Elisa M. Speranza is the granddaughter of Irish and Italian immigrants, raised Catholic, and educated by nuns. She’s been a writer and book nerd all her life. Her first paid job was in the children’s room of her town’s public library, and she was a journalist early in her career before spending thirty-plus years in the water and critical infrastructure business. The Italian Prisoner is her first novel. A native Bostonian and die-hard member of Red Sox Nation, Ms. Speranza moved to New Orleans in 2002. She is committed to celebrating and honoring the city’s fragile and fascinating culture, environment, and history. She lives with Jon Kardon in New Orleans and Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts. Learn more at www.elisamariesperanza.com.