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The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman
Contemporary fiction

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

by Lori Nelson Spielman

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Quick take

Escape to the Italian countryside in this hopeful family drama about love, a curse, and second chances.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Happy


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes


Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than two hundred years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love. Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily-single baker at her grandfather’s Brooklyn deli, claim it’s an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it’s a true hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she’ll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her eightieth birthday, and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all.

Against the backdrop of wandering Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, and enchanting Amalfi Coast villages, romance blooms, destinies are found, and family secrets are unearthed—secrets that could threaten the family far more than a centuries-old curse.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany.
The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany


Many years ago, in Trespiano, Italy, Filomena Fontana, a plain, bitter girl whose younger sister was blessed with beauty, cursed all second-born Fontana daughters to a life without love. Filomena resented her sister, Maria, from the first time she cast eyes on her, sweetly cradled in their mother’s arms.

And her childhood jealousy only festered as the two blossomed into teens. Filomena’s sweetheart, Cosimo, a young man with a wandering eye, took a shine to the younger Maria. Though Maria tried to ward off Cosimo’s unwanted advances, Cosimo persisted. Filomena warned Maria, “If you steal my Cosimo, you will be forever cursed, along with all second-born daughters.”

Not long afterward, while Cosimo was picnicking with the Fontana family, Cosimo trapped Maria down by the river, where he thought they wouldn’t be seen. He grabbed Maria, forcing a kiss from her. Before Maria could shove Cosimo away, Filomena arrived. Seeing only the kiss, Filomena became incensed. She grabbed a river rock and threw it at her sister. It struck Maria in the eye. She lost her sight in that eye, which forever drooped. Maria was no longer a beauty, and she never married.

Some say it’s a coincidence. Others insist it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. But no one can dispute the facts. Since the day Filomena issued the curse, more than two hundred years ago, not a single second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love.

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Why I love it

One of my favorite ways to travel is through a book, and during these odd pandemic times, this has been more of a comfort than ever before. I curled up with The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany on a sunny afternoon, and polished it off in one gloriously indulgent sitting. Many hours later, in the midst of squabbling children and Legos strewn about the floors, I found myself still sighing over Emilia’s sun-kissed journey to Tuscany and the family secrets that she unearths.

The second daughters of the Fontana family are afflicted with a curse to never find love—in order to break it, Emilia embarks on a quest with her great aunt Poppy and cousin Lucy to fulfill an old promise. Their path forward requires that they deal with the complexities of family, betrayals, and the tensions that they have long endured. Yet the lies and darkness of the human heart are met with grace and forgiveness, which gives The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany a tender edge.

Long after I closed the book, Emilia’s warm and heartfelt travels lingered with me, not only as a dream of the canals of Venice (which I now promise myself I will one day visit!), but as a journey of love and redemption: a wisely humorous reminder of brighter days, hopefully for all of us to come.

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Member ratings (19,344)

  • Ann S.

    Indianapolis, IN

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book was so heartwarming.It was one of those stories that had me laughing one moment and crying the next. It was also full of the kind of wisdom only a Grandparent can give ❤️.

  • Sheila R.

    Hingham, MA

    I absolutely loved this book and its characters. Great story of multi-generational family, relationships, love and travel. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down until finished❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Brittany O.

    Macungie, PA

    I just finished this book, and I’m struggling for words that could possibly do it justice. The characters are rich, and the story is beautiful—possibly my favorite BOTM read ever ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Kayla A.

    Beulaville, NC

    A beautiful story, with wonderful and well-thought out characters whose stories i followed so closely. This book was already a game changer for me — and then i read the author’s note at the end. ❣️❣️

  • Courtney B.

    Murray, NE

    I enjoyed the journey. We have lived in Italy for 3 years and I savored the descriptions—poppy was the all star and you couldn’t help but want her dreams to come true. Reflection on life choices. 5⭐️

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