For readers who are in love with romance, Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, stands out among romance books, romance novels and fiction books. Although characters in a work of fiction, Madeline and Ken’s all too human struggles set them apart from the ordinary heroine and hero. In a departure from most romance novels and romance books for Kindle, Water Signs celebrates faith, family, and patriotism even as it explores coming-of-age in a contemporary world where traditional values are shunned and ridiculed. Still, author Daria Anne DiGiovanni infuses the pages with old-fashioned romance while captivating readers with her vivid descriptions of suburban Philadelphia, the South Jersey Shore, and South Florida.As you’re drawn into this mesmerizing tale of first love and second chances, you’ll see, hear, touch, and smell the salty sea air, the sounds of the ocean, and the aroma of homemade Italian food; you’ll also experience the palpable emotions that characterize a 14-year romance fraught with heartache, miscommunication, and most importantly, genuine, abiding love. Looking for a different kind of romance novel – one that inspires, uplifts and makes you believe in happily ever after? Read Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal.
I couldn’t stop myself from being addicted to the outcome of this story! As a mom and an Entrepreneur reading a novel is PURE luxury for me. Reading Daria’s book gave me the escape I needed as I feel in-love with Madeline and could relate to all the longings of her heart, torn between “the right thing to do” by her family and religious standard and what she felt in her heart. Every woman can relate her own youthful hopefulness for a “lifetime” romance, however, Madeline’s journey to love is suspenseful and so engaging I couldn’t stop reading ….and just when I thought the plot was winding down a new twist to keep me hooked was in the next chapter. Indulge in the “treat” of reading this story.
Another Review of Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal
It never ceases to amaze me how after 3 1/2 years, I am still receiving wonderful reviews from readers. This one came from a LinkedIn contact whose email I discovered this morning:
Hi Daria, I just finished your book. I read it on my kindle. I must say you have a great talent! I can’t even write this email properly. It was so interesting to read about places I have visited. Well I hope things are wonderful on your end on the world. All the best, M.P.
Funny how something so seemingly insignificant can happen just at the moment you need it most. It’s been a very tough New Year so far, dealing with the aftermath of my cousin’s shocking death (I haven’t yet written a post about what we discovered about her after her passing) and my mother’s ensuing health issues, which have dominated my time and my thoughts. M.P.’s correspondence today was a welcome breath of fresh air in a time period marked by much darkness and worry, although ironically I spent last evening editing the five chapters I’ve written so far of my sequel. I am not a “one-hit wonder”, after all! 😉
In Chapter 9, Maddy tends to a recuperating Ken, who has injured his leg in a work accident (something that did happen in real life, although many of the events of this chapter have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes). It’s here where I first introduce readers to some Philly-area favorites:
“Thank you, sweetheart!”
Ken had awakened to find Madeline busily setting up a tray table with a turkey and cheese hoagie from Wawa, a pickle and a bag of Herr’s potato chips. He looked adorably groggy as he rubbed his eyes and sat up on the couch.
“Damn!” He laughed. “How long have I been out? And what smells so good?”
Placing the tray in front of him, Maddy smiled. “Hmm, well I’d say at least an hour and a half, to answer your first question. As for the second, I am attempting to make my Mom’s mussels marinara sauce for you. There’s plenty, so you can have some tonight for dinner and freeze the rest. I’m also leaving you chicken cutlets and a pan of eggplant parm. Wouldn’t want you to starve or anything, just ‘cause you have a bad leg.” Her tone was playful as she unscrewed the lid to a cold bottle of Turkey Hill iced tea.
If there’s one thing I really wish we had in South Florida, it is Wawa convenience stores. A cut above similar retail chains like 7-11, Wawa offers fresh homemade soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as various pots of steaming hot flavored and regular coffees, soft pretzels, Tastykakes and other on-the-run refreshment. Oh and yes, in Philly we call them hoagies, not subs.
Lancaster-based Turkey Hill products are also sorely missed. Whenever I go north for a visit, my parents’ refrigerator is always stocked with fresh-brewed Turkey Hill iced tea and lemonade, and the freezer with their fabulous ice-cream featuring team flavors for the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies. As for Herr’s potato chips, they’ve been on the Philly scene for as long as I can remember, just like soft pretzels and another area favorite, water ice (known to the rest of the county as Italian ices), as mentioned in the beginning of Chapter 7:
“Here you go sweetheart,” Ken said with a smile, handing Maddy a small cup of one of her favorite treats—lemon water ice.
“Ooh, it’s even got little pieces of lemon in it, awesome!” she enthused, taking a spoonful into her mouth. They were sitting on a green-painted wooden bench, facing the ocean.
“You know, I really could have splurged on a large, Madeline Rose,” he remarked, giving her a playful nudge. Then, just as she was about to speak, added, “Oh, I know, I know. We have to watch our calories!” He was teasing of course, but Maddy took slight offense.
“Hey, just ‘cause you don’t understand what it was like to be the ‘chubby girl’ in school, don’t make fun of me! I wish I didn’t have to be so careful, but I was never one of those naturally thin girls like Carmen who can eat whatever she wants and not even have to exercise. It’s just the way it is.”
As she spoke, her eyes followed the graceful trail of a seagull as it rode the evening air currents. Ken lodged his plastic spoon back into his slushy cherry flavored concoction, and then turned her shoulders so she was looking squarely at him.
That scene is reminiscent of countless hours spent sitting on a bench on the boardwalk — either alone or in the company of family and friends — enjoying a cold water ice while gazing at the ocean. I can picture the seagulls, the waves and the colorful umbrellas dotting the sand even as I type this. It was so easy to place Ken and Maddy into various situations like this, regardless of whether or not the real Ken and I had actually done the same thing back in the day.
In a future post, I will delve into a character study of Madeline, complete with all of her insecurities including excessive worry about her weight, as evidenced in the dialogue above. I’ll also take a look at some of the real places that provide the settings for much of the interaction between the characters such as Frisanco’s Restaurant (now out of business), Taj Mahal Casino, The Ship Inn, Acapulco Grill (which no longer exists), Arturo’s Restaurant and The Boca Resort and Club.
We’ll also explore the use of popular music to help keep readers abreast of the current year throughout a long, 16-year journey; the development of technology to denote the progression of time; and more comparisons between fact and fiction.
The Food of Water Signs: Provolone Cheese and Tomato Pie
In Water Signs as in life, regional foods were an integral enhancement to every celebration and sporting event. My mom was the party planner extraordinaire, the hostess with the mostess — the family organizer and Philly sports fanatic who would create well-thought-out or impromptu gatherings centering around every milestone. Whether it was a First Holy Communion, the Flyers in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Phillies in the World Series or the Eagles confronting an NFC Division rival, Mom made sure there was plenty of great food to complement the occasion.
Good thing too, because as anyone who’s been a lifelong Philly sports fan can attest, more often than not, the food is the only thing left to celebrate after the clock runs out. A certain January in 1981 comes to mind when — off of the high of beating the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game (an event I was lucky enough to attend in person with brother Paul and sister Carolyn…brrr!), the Eagles completely collapsed under pressure, losing to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV, 27-10. The 1981 NFC Championship that preceded the Super Bowl letdown is recounted in vivid detail by Maddy during a scene in which she and Ken have dinner with her mother and Aunt Maria in Ocean City, New Jersey.
In Chapter 6, Ken and Maddy share a picnic on the beach featuring Italian wedding cookies, provolone cheese fromSouth Philly and tomato pie — all of which are popular delicacies in the Southeastern PA/Philly/South Jersey area. Every Christmas my mom used to drive down to the 9th Street Market in South Philly specifically to buy provolone, along with other things not typically done as well in the suburbs. Sometimes this entailed standing in line for hours, but in the end it was so worth it when said provolone was accompanied by roasted peppers and fresh Italian bread (yum!) as a prelude to a fabulous meal. Now, that’s what I call Italian soul food!
Last September, I was invited to speak at the Hawthorne Writers Group by my good friend, Don Smith. After some collaboration about the event, we decided it would be fun to include a few of the foods mentioned in Water Signs as refreshments. At the time, I was visiting my parents in Newtown Square, PA so baking the Italian wedding cookies was an easy proposition. However, I felt it would be best to actually purchase tomato pie somewhere in and around Hawthorne (which is located just 22 miles from Manhattan in North Jersey), rather than schlep it in the car for the 2 1/2 hour ride. It never occurred to me that this delicious variation of pizza had not yet been discovered in Central and/or Northern New Jersey.
But when I went online to find some bakeries and pizza places in the Hawthorne area and began to make calls, you might have thought I was inquiring about some obscure, exotic foodstuff known only to a select group of elite chefs. Most of my conversations went something like this:
“Hello, do you have tomato pie?”
“Uh, what? Tomato pie? Never heard of it. What’s that?”
“Well, it’s kind of like pizza, except it has a special kind of dough with tomato sauce and grated cheese sprinkled on top.”
“Uh, no we don’t have that, but we do have the best New Yawk style pizza around!”
“No, I am looking for tomato pie, not New York style pizza.”