Gilbert author Melinda Sue Sanchez served a mission in Italy for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Years later, her love for the people and the country served as inspiration for her first published book, The Fisherman’s Daughter.
Sanchez recalls, “I talked with the people of Italy when I lived there, the ones who had the war and its atrocities right on their doorsteps and in their homes. I heard stories from men and women about what they had suffered and what extraordinary things they had done to fight for their loved ones and country.”
“Husbands and wives thinking each other was dead for months at a time, women working with the resistance in secret, and the joy they felt when Mussolini was overthrown and the Allies arrived in Italy—I was awestruck and it changed my heart permanently,” says Sanchez.
The Fisherman’s Daughter is a historical romance novel set on the picturesque coast of Sicily. Marianna De’Angelis has grown up in the country side riding horses, baking with her mother and sometimes helping her father with his fishing business. Two life-changing events transform her world: she meets an extremely handsome Italian soldier named Massimo Scalvone, and the Nazis overtake her country.
The opening sentence of the book illustrates Sanchez’s descriptive way with the written word: “The steady slap, slap, slap of my skirt against my shins gave a rhythm to my steps as dust landed like sifted powder on the tips of my leather shoes.”
Sanchez says, “My favorite quote from the book is when Marianna says, ‘There is more than one way to die in a war,’ when she has fought with all of her soul to hold on but realizes that she may lose Massimo forever, and to her that feels like death. I believe that it’s true in many instances in a war. The losses there are not just through physical death, but can be the loss of hope, heart, love—and for those who choose to do evil, your soul can even die.”
The Fisherman’s Daughter is published by Covenant and is available at Deseret Book.