Tag Archives: Jamie’s Muse — historical novel (Nighthawk Press 2013) — by Bonnie Lee Black

“Our Good Name”

For an author, the birth of her book is a time of rejoicing. Especially, I can attest from my own experience, if that book is a historical novel that brings some of that author’s forebears back to life — gives these characters, who once really lived, a rebirth.

This week, here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, author Catherine Marenghi celebrated the birth of her third book, this one a historical novel titled Our Good Name, which brings her Italian immigrant grandparents, Stefano and Celestina Marenghi, now long dead, back to vivid life for her readers.

Catherine’s celebration, held this week in San Miguel, was a book launch at the Biblioteca’s Santa Ana theater. Presenting to a full audience, Catherine explained the gestation of this book, read several passages from it, and showed images on a large screen to dramatize her points, such as this one:

European immigrants arriving at New York’s Ellis Island near the turn of the last century

In the six years Catherine has lived in San Miguel, after a long and successful career in public relations in Boston, she has published three books – the acclaimed memoir Glad Farm, about her early years in Milford, Massachusetts; a poetry chapbook, Breaking Bread; and now the historical novel Our Good Name.

As Catherine explained in her introduction, the names, dates and places used in her novel are all true, but she has fleshed out the connective tissue in between with tales that she imagined. She tells her tales in many voices — in first-person, present tense — which creates a sense of immediacy and intimacy to these universal stories.

Our Good Name takes readers from a small village in northern Italy to the industrial heart of Massachusetts in the early twentieth century. Leaving behind the backbreaking field labor they knew, and sailing steerage class to “the land of promise and opportunity” they’d dreamed about, Stefano and his young bride Celestina are soon faced with the hard realities of immigrant life in the United States.

Inspired by true events, Our Good Name shows their struggles, hardships, and heart-wrenching losses, including the execution of their friend and neighbor in their adopted town of Milford, Nicola Sacco.

And yet, as Catherine tells it, the stories of Stefano and Celestina and their sprawling family, are filled with love, humor, and the determination to preserve their good name while making a life they could hand down to their children and grandchildren.

Catherine’s grandparents, Stefano and Celestina Marenghi
Catherine today, at home in SMA

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A native of Massachusetts, Catherine is active in the literary community of San Miguel. Her books are available online: https://www.amazon.com/Our-Good-Name-Catherine-Marenghi/dp/1938798392.