Monday, February 9, 2015

The Real Woman behind “Between the Cracks” By Carmela Cattuti

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Please join Carmela Cattuti as she tours the blogosphere for Between the Cracks: One Woman's Journey from Sicily to America, from February 9-27, and enter to win a Kindle Touch eReader, loaded with an eBook of Between the Cracks! Today she's here on Book Babe. Once you've read her post, find out how to enter the contest!

My readers have often asked me about the real Angela on whom I based my book. How closely did I base my main character on my great aunt Angela Lanza Barone? I would say very closely; she was my nanny and told me her life story again and again. The real Angela saw her life as a great novel or opera.  She did not see herself as a victim regardless of circumstances or events. I used her essence and created a character that influenced her environment where ever she was and affected whomever she encountered.  My great aunt possessed a cultural inheritance fused with an untraditional spirituality in a way that was atypical during the first half of the 20th century. She honored the divine feminine at a time when traditional Catholicism was practiced by many immigrants from Western Europe. In the book she maintains an altar to Mary, the mother of Christ, she does not have an altar to Jesus, nor does she pray to Him. My great aunt always maintained an altar to the Virgin in her bedroom, out of prying eyes. She credited Mary with saving her life on several occasions.

She relayed her earthquake experience and her life after that to me in great detail, but there are gaps. She was an orphan before the earthquake happened, however, in the novel I have her mother alive to make a point about women’s lives in early 20th century Sicily. I do not know how her parents died. That is a mystery I am delving into for my second book. Angela was signaled out by the Princess of Palermo (Principessa Giulia) for some reason. She was invited to the Princess’s palazzo and Giulia purchased Angela’s sewing. Angela even had her wedding reception at the Princess’s palazzo. I often asked myself why Giulia took such an interest in Angela. As I began to research the connection I found out that the Princess’s husband’s last name was Lanza. There is definitely a strong connection there and I am in the process of investigating this relationship.

How well did I know my great aunt? On the surface I knew her very well, but underneath it all I think she harbored a resentment because she did not receive her true inheritance: acknowledgement that she was part of the Lanza family.  If she was related to Pietro Lanza di Trabia (Giulia’s husband) then she would have been entitled to the benefits of being part of the Lanza family, which would have been considerable. There was an element of unbearable beauty to my great aunt’s countenance even as she aged. I have strived to have this be an undercurrent running through the novel.

I peppered the book with situations that would shed light on the real Angela’s character. I wanted her to shine in a way that was frowned upon for a female immigrant during this time in history. If she were alive today she would have had her own clothing design business and been quite successful. I included dialogue that I heard while growing up in her house (we lived upstairs from her and her husband) and integrated some of the conversations into the book.

Angela Lanza Barone was an artist with a cultural sensibility that transcended time and place. I hope that the reader is quickened to connect with his or her own awareness.


02_Between the Cracks_CoverJoin Angela Lanza as she experiences the tumultuous world of early 20th century Sicily and New York. Orphaned by the earthquake and powerful eruption of Mt. Etna in 1908, Angela is raised in the strict confines of an Italian convent. Through various twists of fate, she is married to a young Italian man whom she barely knows, then together with her spouse, immigrates to the U.S. This novel is an invitation to accompany the young Angela as she confronts the ephemeral nature of life on this planet and navigates the wide cultural gaps between pre-World War II Italy and the booming prosperity of dynamic young America. Author, artist, and teacher Carmela Cattuti created Between the Cracks as an homage to her great-aunt, who survived the earthquake and eruption of Mt. Etna and bravely left Sicily to start a new life in America.

Publication Date: August 15, 2013
Three Towers Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 324
Genre: Historical Fiction

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About the Author

03_Carmela Cattuti_AuthorCarmela Cattuti started her writing career as a journalist for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. After she finished her graduate work in English Literature from Boston College she began to write creatively and taught a journal writing course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write her great aunt's story. "Between the Cracks" has gone through several incarnations and will now become a trilogy. This is the first installment. To connect with Carmela email her or leave a comment at

Between the Cracks Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 9
Guest Post at Book Babe

Tuesday, February 10

Wednesday, February 11

Thursday, February 12
Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews

Monday, February 16
Review at Bookish

Wednesday, February 18
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, February 20

Tuesday, February 24
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, February 25
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Thursday, February 26

Friday, February 27
Spotlight at Passages to the Past


To enter to win a Kindle Touch eReader (valued at $59) & eBook of Between the Cracks, sponsored by author Carmela Cattuti, please complete the giveaway form below.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on February 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Only one entry per household.
All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
Winner will be chosen via GLEAM on February 28th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Please email Amy @ with any questions.


  1. I love a book like this where the author is inspired by people they know.

  2. interesting inspiration