Marcello’s Promise

Written by Jane Coletti Perry
Review by Viviane Crystal

1915: Marcello Corsi and his wife, Luisa, dream of moving to America. Even though it breaks his parents’ hearts, he must do this as his brothers have already done, so one brother sends him money for the ship from Le Havre and the train to Cumberland, Wyoming. The journey is very difficult with abominable food, noxious odors from seasick passengers, and rough weather and seas. Marcello initially settles in Kansas but discovers troubles in the mines there promise bad luck for the future because of striking workers and disasters. He therefore settles in Wyoming, works diligently, and saves money for Luisa and their son, Tony, to follow. This is the story of their settlement.

What stands out is this couple’s formidable courage in the face of challenges and adversity. The mining workers are unionized but resist strikes over policies that need to change; they quickly learn to negotiate and avoid violence. Luisa has already endured sorrow from having a stillborn daughter. Accidents, illness and change test this family’s closeness and endurance. Immigration is not for the faint of heart, and Perry comprehensively depicts the voluminous ups and downs for foreigners settling in America. The ugly side of racism is also portrayed and conquered. Immigrant families bond together to provide strength and assistance when needed; this is the new family upon whom the Corsi family frequently depends. The characters are fully developed, and the reader gets to relish not only their loving moments but also their disagreements, like the one in which Prohibition threatens the family’s security. These characters have a will and determination that are feisty and unwavering. This is nice historical fiction which is a pleasant, realistic account of families settling America’s western mining towns.