I came across author Dana Faletti’s self-published young adult trilogy “The Whisper Series,” when my two teenage daughters rapidly read them during one snowy weekend. Her new novel, “Beautiful Secret,” was released in October. It’s a sweeping Italian romance that follows two characters during different time periods. The first storyline focuses on Tate Domani in present day Pittsburgh. The other is Tate's grandmother, Maria, in 1920's Italy. After my daughters reached out to Faletti to tell her how much they enjoyed the Whisper series, I was lucky enough to preview “Beautiful Secret” prior to its official release.
One of the many strengths of the novel are its two protagonists. Tate and Maria, despite living in separate times, both demonstrate characteristics that the reader can identify with and admire. The two women fight in their unique ways to balance familial commitment with their own desires for love and a fulfilled life. Although Tate's world offers much greater freedom for her to create her own life path, both Tate and Maria ultimately face the same choice: family or love.
Throughout the novel Faletti provides detailed and nuanced character development. Like when both Tate and Maria must make their respective choices, the reader understands fully what these two women have at stake. Either decision will lead to great loss, and also great joy. Faletti's negotiation of each woman's choice is masterfully achieved. I finished the book feeling fully satisfied with the ending, an experience I've found to be less and less common in my fiction reading.
Beyond the characters and plotting, the sheer lushness of “Beautiful Secret” bears mentioning. Tate’s romance transports the reader to France and Italy. The scenes Faletti creates will bring you along on Tate's journey to understand her family and herself. While reading the book, I could taste the food, smell the air, and see the streets Tate traveled. There is a dress Faletti describes in a pivotal scene during Tate’s story line, and I’ve found myself subconsciously seeking this dress out for myself! It was so intricately described and beautifully rendered for the reader. By the end of the story, I didn't want to leave the lush scenery, the powerful familial love, or the rich inner life Faletti creates for her characters.
“Beautiful Secret” is a powerful story of familial, romantic and self-love. As we head into the cold briskness of winter, what better way to warm yourself than to read two women’s journeys to understand their histories and their futures as the Italian sun warms their shoulders? I, for one, look forward to reading it again as the first frost sets in, sipping a warm cup of tea and dreaming of warmer places.
“Beautiful Secret” is written by Dana Falleti. It’s published by Pandamoon Publishing. It was released in September.
Our reviewer, Sarah Kollat, is a developmental psychologist at Penn State University Park. She’s also a writer.