Unto the Daughters

The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family

Karen Tintori

St. Martin's Press

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Karen Tintori thought she knew her family tree.
 
Her grandmother Josie had emigrated from Sicily with her parents at the turn of the century. They settled in Detroit, and with Josie’s nine siblings, worked to create a home for themselves away from the poverty and servitude of the old country. Their descendants were proud Italian-Americans.
But Josie had a sister nobody spoke of. Her name was Frances, and at age sixteen she fell in love with a young barber. Her father wanted her to marry an older don in the neighborhood mafia---a marriage that would give his sons a leg up in the mob. But Frances eloped with her barber, and when she returned home a married woman, her fate was sealed. Even eighty years and two generations later, Frances was not spoken of, and her memory was suppressed.
Unto the Daughters is a historical mystery and family story that unwraps the many layers of family, honor, memory, and fear to find an honor killing in turn-of-the-century Detroit. Tracing the history and insular world of Italian immigrants back to the old country, Karen Tintori shows what they came from, what they hoped for, and how the hopes and dreams of America fell far short for her great-aunt Frances.
 
“Nearly every family has a skeleton in its closet, an ancestor who "sins" against custom and tradition and pays a double price -- ostracism or worse at the time, and obliteration from the memory of succeeding generations. Few of these transgressors paid a higher price than Frances Costa, who was brutally murdered by her own brothers in a 1919 Sicilian honor killing in Detroit. And fewer yet have had a more tenacious successor than Frances's great-niece, Karen Tintori, who refused to allow the truth to remain forgotten. This is a book for anyone who shares the convinction that all history, in the end, is family history.”
-Frank Viviano, author of Blood Washes Blood and Dispatches from the Pacific Century
 
“Switching back and forth between rural Sicily and early 20th century Detroit, Unto the Daughters reads like a nonfiction version of the film Godfather II--if it had been told from the point of view of a female Corleone. In exploring her own family's secret history, Karen Tintori gives voice not just to her victimized aunt but to all Italian-American daughters and wives silenced by the power of omerta. Half gripping true-crime story, half moving family memoir, Unto the Daughters is both fascinating and frightening, packed with telling details and obscure folklore that help bring the suffocating world of a Mafia family to life.”
--Eleni N. Gage, author of North of Ithaka 

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Unto the Daughters
Chapter OneIf not for her father's passport, defaced but not destroyed, Francesca never would have surfaced. She would have remained a woman lost to history, her story swallowed in the depths of the Detroit River off Belle Isle.The passport was issued in 1914, during the reign of King Vittorio Emanuele III, just fifty-three years after the patriot soldier Giuseppe Garibaldi led the resurgence that unified a patchwork of city-states into a country called Italy. My family left Italy for America with a single passport. Issued to my great-grandfather, it included my great-grandmother

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Praise for Unto the Daughters

“Nearly every family has a skeleton in its closet, an ancestor who "sins" against custom and tradition and pays a double price -- ostracism or worse at the time, and obliteration from the memory of succeeding generations. Few of these transgressors paid a higher price than Frances Costa, who was brutally murdered by her own brothers in a 1919 Sicilian honor killing in Detroit. And fewer yet have had a more tenacious successor than Frances's great-niece, Karen Tintori, who refused to allow the truth to remain forgotten. This is a book for anyone who shares the convinction that all history, in the end, is family history.”
-Frank Viviano, author of Blood Washes Blood and Dispatches from the Pacific Century
 
“Switching back and forth between rural Sicily and early 20th century Detroit, Unto the Daughters reads like a nonfiction version of the film Godfather II--if it had been told from the point of view of a female Corleone. In exploring her own family's secret history, Karen Tintori gives voice not just to her victimized aunt but to all Italian-American daughters and wives silenced by the power of omerta. Half gripping true-crime story, half moving family memoir, Unto the Daughters is both fascinating and frightening, packed with telling details and obscure folklore that help bring the suffocating world of a Mafia family to life.”
--Eleni N. Gage, author of North of Ithaka 

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About the Author

Karen Tintori

Karen Tintori is a writer, journalist, and dual citizen of the United States and Italy, who lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan, with her family. Her books include Trapped, a 2002 Chicago Tribune favorite book, and The Book of Names (coauthor), among others.

Karen Tintori

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Karen Tintori

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Available Formats and Book Details

Unto the Daughters
The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family
Karen Tintori

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
July 2008
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429936002
ISBN10: 1429936002
256 pages
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
July 2008
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312334642
ISBN10: 0312334648
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 256 pages
$17.99
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