A NovelBook - 2004
By 1908 Francesca Frascatti has reached the pinnacle of success in the opera world. A fiery-haired Neapolitan diva with an infamously volatile temperament, Francesca secretly aches with regret for having given up her daughter, Maria Grazia, on the road to stardom, and she has come to America to find her and make amends. By night Francesca appears as Tosca, alternately delighting and tyrannizing the Manhattan Opera House; by day, she and Dante Romano, a detective posing as her lover, search for her daughter, who has reportedly moved to America to find a better life. Francesca and Dante must brave a sordid maze of Black Hand spies, corrupt Tammany Hall police officers, and greedy hooligans to reach Maria Grazia before her cunning and haughty grandfather can spirit her away to Italy and out of her scandalous mother's reach forever.
At the opera house, Mina DiGianni, a gentle Italian lace maker from the Lower East Side tenements, becomes Francesca's costume dresser and confidante. Like Francesca, Mina is haunted by her past, and by a secret she's been keeping. Caught between the joyful hope of a new child growing inside her and the painful reality of her husband's abuse and philandering, Mina discovers new possibilities while working for Francesca . . . and is bewildered to find herself falling in love with Dante. When Mina's husband and his mistress betray her, Mina realizes the terrible price her choices have exacted. As Mina and Francesca's worlds intertwine, and then collide in a shocking turn of events, both women face the greatest challenges of their lives: to finally lay their pasts to rest and to embrace the present.