Chiaverini has an impressive ability to bring a time and place alive, showcasing the effects of Prohibition on farmers in Sonoma Valley. The wine country of California is a popular setting for novels right now, and it is fascinating to get a look at the history of the place.
When Rosa learns that her abusive husband has fallen in with bootleg mobsters and that there are guns, money and liquor in her barn, she takes her two children and the money. They assume new identities in San Francisco with Rosa’s childhood sweetheart, Lars, and learn of a possible treatment for the children’s mysterious illness. However, they’re paying the doctors with stolen gangster money and know they are being hunted. They end up settling in Sonoma Valley, where they hire out as farm hands. Their new friends will change their lives and make them committed to their new home, but the tightrope between the mob and the revenuers is a hard balance. Can Rosa and Lars make a family together and get a second chance at happiness? (DUTTON, Feb., 416 pp., $27.50)