The narrative follows 16-year-old Annaka Brooks as she returns home to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia for her Grampy’s funeral. Though much of her adolescence has been tarnished by feelings of loneliness and difference, her homecoming provides opportunities to rebuild connections with family and friends and to figure out key secrets from her past.
This ambitious debut novel (420 pages) by Ms Guzzo-McParland is an epic story of an Italian family emigrating to Canada, some (like Caterina the narrator) to join their family, others (like her older friend Lucia) to meet husbands for the first time. They make the voyage by the sea in the late 1950's onboard the Saturnalia, from which the story takes its title. Caterina, her mother Teresa along with Lucia the teenage proxy bride are "the women" of the Saturnalia.