It is ALWAYS such a pleasure for me to host my guest today. Amazeballs writer JOANNE GUIDOCCIO has been a writer-friend for almost 5 years – ever since she hosted me on her own blog when my very first book released. Joanne is a one-click author for me because her books take me away from the world for hours of reading pleasure, and today, she’s here, talking about her newest release NO MORE SECRETS.
If I wasn’t already an avid reader of her work, I would become one just based on the blurb for this book, alone.
Here…come visit with Joanne ~
Inspired by Two Francescas
Twenty-five years ago, I sat with eyes glued to the big screen as Meryl Streep assumed the role of Francesca Johnson, an Italian war bride, in the romantic drama, The Bridges of Madison County. Based on the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, the film focuses on a four-day love affair between two middle-aged lovers, Francesca and Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photojournalist brilliantly played by Clint Eastwood.
Having spent years in a passionless marriage, Francesca falls deeply in love with Robert and contemplates leaving her loyal husband and teenage children. Here’s a moving excerpt that captures Francesca’s dilemma:
Francesca: Robert, please. You don’t understand, no one does. When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave, they take your life of details with them. And then you’re expected to move again only you don’t remember what moves you because no one has asked in so long. Not even yourself. You never in your life think that love like this can happen to you.
Robert: But now that you have it…
Francesca: I want to keep it forever. I want to love you the way I do now the rest of my life. Don’t you understand…we’ll lose it if we leave. I can’t make an entire life disappear to start a new one. All I can do is try to hold onto both. Help me. Help me not lose loving you.
Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that I needed tissues for the last third of the movie.
One year later (1996), I watched the movie on VHS with my mother, another Francesca. She was also moved by the storyline and provided her own perspective on the affair.
Five years younger than Francesca Johnson, Mama also left Italy during those post-War World II years. Mama settled in the Italian section of Sudbury (Canada), while Francesca Johnson ended up in the lush countryside of Iowa. I gather from the book and film she was the only Italian in that town.
As Mama’s thoughts traveled back to the late 1950s and early 1960s, her eyes glistened with tears. She shared her own stories and those of friends and relatives who had emigrated to Canada and the United States. As I listened, I started to imagine writing a novel about an Italian woman’s immigrant experience.
I was still teaching at the time, but I managed to come up with a very rough outline of the storyline. And then, I put it aside when the details of my own life became more challenging.
While cleaning out my files in 2018, I discovered the outline. I revamped the storyline, adding three more POVs, a psychic companion, and a more contemporary setting.
Take a look at No More Secrets…
Angelica Delfino takes a special interest in the lives of her three nieces, whom she affectionately calls the daughters of her heart. Sensing that each woman is harboring a troubling, possibly even toxic secret, Angelica decides to share her secrets—secrets she had planned to take to the grave. Spellbound, the nieces listen as Angelica travels back six decades to reveal an incredulous tale of forbidden love, tragic loss, and reinvention. It is the classic immigrant story upended: an Italian widow’s transformative journey amid the most unlikely of circumstances.
Inspired by Angelica’s example, the younger women share their “First World” problems and, in the process, set themselves free.
But one heartbreaking secret remains untold…
Angelica smiled at her nieces. “You’re probably wondering why I’ve summoned you here in the middle of winter. I didn’t want to wait, in case…”
The three women exchanged alarmed glances.
“Ma said you were better,” Velia said.
“Did something happen this week?” Nora asked.
“I have been given a reprieve,” Angelica said. “I wanted to talk with each of you while I was at my strongest.”
An awkward silence followed.
Angelica sighed. It was going to be more challenging than she thought. She had hoped for more signs of openness. Right now, the three of them had reverted to wariness. “I’m hoping we can all share without judgment. As the eldest, I will start, but before I do so, I’d like all your assurances that you will follow suit. I don’t want to be the only one baring my soul.”
Each niece lowered her head, avoiding contact with Angelica and each other.
“Sharing is caring,” Angelica said in a sing-song voice.
Each woman smiled in spite of herself. But still, no promises were made.
“All right then,” Angelica said as a note of exasperation crept into her voice. “Let’s make a deal. If I succeed in shocking you, then you have to share.”
The younger women exchanged glances and smiles.
“Why now?” Nora asked. “Aren’t you afraid we’ll share your innermost secrets with our mothers, who will, in turn, broadcast them across Canada and Italy?”
Angelica laughed wickedly. “Go ahead, but do keep in mind that both of them have weak hearts.”
“I’ll share,” Teresa said in a loud voice that startled everyone.
“Me, too,” Velia and Nora added.
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A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Joanne Guidoccio writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romances, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
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Again, it was such a pleasure to host Joanne today. Look for her books and read them – you won’t be disappointed!!!
Until next time, peeps ~ Peg