In a small rural town in southern New Jersey, 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.