This is a truly memorable story, written to tug at the heart strings. The opening paragraph introduces the reader to a style of writing that is silky smooth, and flows along so well you just don't notice the passing of time. Nella Castelluca is the middle daughter of five girls, whose enquiring mind and direct approach fuel her ambitious determination to succeed. The story revolves around her life and loves as she grows to womanhood in an Italian community in rural Pennsylvania, and then beyond that through the next two generations. The author takes us deep into the mind and heart of this lovable character, exposing her weaknesses and mistakes, whilst at the same time recognising and honouring her strengths. It is in her relationships with those she loves that we see the real Nella, who learns a lot about love and faith as she goes through her life, grieving her losses and celebrating her triumphs. The descriptions of the times and lifestyle are meticulous, and it is easy to get lost in the mental pictures and become a fly on the wall. I don't want to go into the story any deeper as it is so easy to write a spoiler when reviewing, but this is an emotional read with lots of smiles thrown in for good measure. This is the first book I have read from this very talented author. She has a distinctive voice that is far from run of the mill, and I look forward to reading more in the future.