The Mercy of Time and Chance by Joyce DeBacco
Genre: Women’s fiction/literary
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About Joyce: Among Joyce’s other works are Serendipity House, Tomorrow Blossoms, and Where Dreams are Born. Find her on the web at: http://www.joycedebacco.com
The Mercy of Time and Chance spans three generations of an Italian-American family. The first generation is steeped in old world customs and values; the second tenaciously clings to the old and familiar while the world around them changes; the third embraces the modern but reverts to the past when it suits them.
Caught in the middle is Renie. Orphaned at two and raised by a bitter stepmother, she unwittingly promotes what she believes are the proper roles of men and women by raising her children the way she was raised. After a life filled with tragedy and heartbreak, she realizes she may have created a respectful, obedient daughter, but she’s also made her meek and submissive. Her son, on the other hand, has been groomed from birth to assume his father’s role as lord and master of the family. Unfortunately, he also inherits his quick temper.
In the shadows of the darkened parlor, Tessa rubbed a coarse hand on the underside of her swollen belly as she pondered the conversation to which she’d just been privy. She’d noticed her stepdaughter’s figure developing a more womanly roundness. Apparently Carmine also noticed. With firm, high breasts, a tiny waist, and rounded hips, the girl reminded her of herself many years earlier. Now, at thirty years of age, she couldn’t recall a time when her body was hers alone. For the last ten years she’d been attached to, coupled with, or inhabited by others, poked and prodded from without and within. Trapped in a misshapen body for much of her adult life, she found it difficult if not impossible to commiserate with the problems of her young, attractive stepdaughter
The fluted horn of Tony’s Victrola issued a groan not unlike the dying moans of a wounded animal. Tessa glanced at her sleeping husband, his fat cigar dangling precariously from his gnarled fingers, and frowned. She plucked the stogie from his hand before it fell and ground it out in the ashtray. Then she slipped the glass of wine from his other hand before it, too, landed on the carpet.
She drained what was left of his Chianti, then rested the empty glass on the crest of her belly and refilled it. As she swirled the ruby liquid round and round, an enigmatic smile played across her face. Then she downed the drink in a single, satisfied gulp, as if adding the final ingredient to a prize-winning recipe.