A lighthearted fiction about
Two Italian-American Families.

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Scroll Down or Click the below links to learn more:
A Summary of the Story
Charts of the Matteo and Camara family trees 
Brief Insights about the Novel's Characters

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The Spaghetti Set is now 
available for sale on most online bookstores. 
The below online links are provided for convenience.

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Famiglia...family is family, like it or not!
A brother and sister depart war-torn Italy in 1947 and cross the Atlantic to reunite with their father in Benton, New Jersey.  As the seasick brunette dreams of eligible Americani, the young fellow dreads the prospect of dealing with his cantankerous Papà.  Meanwhile, in Benton, another Italian-American family bickers over mundane issues with burlesque animation.  Partnerships test the patience of the brothers and domesticity puts the women at odds.

These economically disparate clans, the Camara and the Matteo families, cross paths after Teresa Camara literally bumps into love-starved Mack Matteo.  Instead of letting their mutual attraction evolve slowly into something more, her scheming father takes matters into his own hands, placing their relationship on course for possible disaster.

While the Camara and the Matteo households are fraught with normal sibling rivalry and shared secrets, a few obnoxious family members engage in irreverent and ludicrous behavior, causing total mayhem and discord.  One unscrupulous brother’s involvement in an embezzlement scheme leads to murder.

How the two families cope with the absurdities of love, intimacy and life unfolds in a true comedy of errors, complete with laughter and tears.
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                               Intent on an American, ambitious Teresa rejects immigrant suitors.
                               Though Mack struggles with his conscience, he keeps his secret.
                               Jake does whatever it takes to shut up his wife.
                               Self-centered Patricia doesn’t realize what getting her way entails.
                               Something or somebody is always weighing Frank down.
                               Dying to be the first, Genva competes with her sister-in-law.
                               Young Juliet is intent on finding a man, Italian or not.
                               Unattractive Mina uses deceitful means to entrap a husband.
                               Signore Camara connives to ensure his own interests.
                               Controlling Signora Matteo annoys her daughter-in-laws.
                               Voluptuous Anna despises the man she married.

                               Antonio doesn't know what he's getting himself into.
                               Detective Canelli’s investigation brings surprising results.
                               Iggy is such a malandrino (rascal).
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Click Here to a Read Book Review by Tiziano Dossena in L'Idea Magazine


Rose Marie Boyd

(Rosa Maria Maisto)
The author grew up in an Italian section of Trenton, New Jersey, called “The Burg.”  To the background music of her mother’s native tongue, she danced around old world customs and traditions practiced by the local immigrants who lived there.  Her favorite annual tradition, the “Feast of the Lights,” a weeklong festival in honor of the Madonna di Cassandrino, was celebrated in the streets just outside her doorstep.
With the Americanization of her first name in grade school and then another name change occurring with marriage, Rosa Maria Maisto eventually became Rose Marie Boyd.  However, a few old friends and many relatives still prefer to use her Italian name.
A graduate of Trenton State College and the proud mother of two successful children, she relocated to Prescott, Arizona, with her husband ten years ago.  As she basked under the Southwest sun, the writing bug decided to bite her.  Since then, she's been expressing her creativity through poetry and novels.
An avid reader, she enjoys critiquing a bestseller or an old classic with the women in her monthly book group.  The author also loves a competitive game of tennis and has volunteered for an adult literacy program, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and The American Red Cross.
She is now in the process of writing her next novel, DEPENDING ON YOUR VIEW..., another light fiction about a menopausal Italian-American who spies on her neighbors. 


Click on the Arrow in the Below Box to View
The December 21, 2011 Interview with the Author on AZ TV.

Click on the Arrow in the Below Box
To Listen to the January 10, 2011
Radio Interview of the Author by Michael Dresser.


           Dio santoI can’t take this much more!”  The skirt of her sundress flapping in the June gusts, the Italian took flight across the weaving deck and skidded to a halt at the ship’s side rail.  She grabbed hold of its top rung, hoisted herself up and leaned forward, parallel to the water.  Dampened by the exertion, her hair clung to her scalp, the curls a tangle of seaweed.
           Another passenger spotted the human gangplank and cried out.  “Teresa Camara!”  He dashed up to her and, snatching her by the waist, yanked her back to safety.  “Sei pazza?  I ought to have you committed!”  He carted the brunette a distance from the rail and then dropped her to the deck, close to a full bucket of water.
           Unable to hold back for another second, Teresa vomited into the pail, its overflow splashing her sandals.  “Antonio, you idiot!”  She swiped her mouth on the back of her forearm.  “Why can’t you leave me alone?”
           “A brother tries to rescue his crazy sister and what does he get?  Nothing but ingratitudine.”
           “Want me to be grateful?  Help me wipe my shoes.”  Her face buried in her hands, she sulked as Antonio whipped out a handkerchief and patted her sandals dry.
           Oblivious to the drama, the veteran freighter steamed ahead across the chop of the Atlantic at a steady speed of 11 knots.  Instead of the wartime supplies it once transported for the Allied forces, it carried 9,000 tons of commercial cargo along with fifty passengers, Teresa the queasiest of the lot.  The days at sea had taken their toll on her stomach and her nerves.
           “I never expected it to be this bad,” Teresa moaned.  “How much longer before we get there?”
           “Just two more days to go.”  Her brother placed a palm on her bare shoulder, his calluses rough but comforting.  “Compared to all the years it took for Papà to arrange this trip, what’s another 48 hours?”  When the freighter lolled to the stern, Antonio maneuvered his hand to the small of her back.  “America’s waiting.  Are you ready to…?”  The roar of the engine drowned out the end of his sentence.
           Teresa shouted back, “sono più di pronta…more than ready to get off this ship!”  Fists clenched, she pounded her foot against the floorboards.  “Mattina e sera, night and day, I’ve paced these ugly decks, too nauseous to relax for a second.”  Aware that the sway of the boat hadn’t bothered her brother in the least, she narrowed her eyes and studied the casualness of his stance.  Why me?
           “I can’t even hold onto a meal for more that a few seconds before, presto, I’m ready to feed the fish.”  Absorbed in her own self-pity, she didn’t notice the stowaway meowing nearby or the remains of a mouse the seasick cat had regurgitated.
           Povera ragazza…poor, poor girl.” Antonio pacified.
           When a woman who was almost as green around the gills as Teresa dragged by nibbling on a soda cracker, Antonio stopped her.  “Excuse me, signora.  Have any crackers to spare for my sister?”  With a nod of compassion, the woman handed him a few and then hobbled towards the aft of the ship.  “Here, Teresa, eat these and, for God’s sake, stay away from the rail!”
           “No, grazie.”  Teresa pushed his arm away, knocking one of the crackers out of his hand.  “Can’t even stomach them anymore.”  Catching sight of a handsome deckhand nearby, she lowered her voice to a whisper.  “They give me gas.”
           “I’ll say.”  Antonio pressed his mouth against the back of his forearm and trumpeted a discordant melody, a parody of serious flatulence.  Hearing it, the sailor turned around and grimaced at Teresa and then hurried away, his nose lifted in disgust.
           “He actually thought it was me!”  She smacked her brother’s arm.  “With you around to embarrass me every chance you get, I’m doomed to be single.”
           “Oh, who am I kidding?”  With exaggerated drama, she extended the fingers of both hands down the front of her frame.  “Look at me, a skeleton compared to the other women on the ship.”  She poked the back of one fist against her hip and thrust out her buttocks.  “Tell me.  How am I supposed to catch a decent man?”
           His hair blown back by a strong breeze, Antonio patted Teresa’s rear end.  “Don’t sprain any muscles over it.  There’ll be plenty to eat in America.”  She smacked his hand away and, when another passing sailor leered at her small but firm rump, Antonio’s grin mutated into a scowl.  “If Papà doesn’t fatten you up, I will.”
           Teresa’s expression soured at the thought of her father.  Although the image of the man was vague in her mind, she hadn’t forgotten the sterness of his voice when he had announced his imminent departure.  She was nine years old the day her father sailed from Sicily with two of her brothers and left her mother stranded in their hometown of Trapani with the youngest two of five children.
           “How could Papà abandon us the way he did?”
           “What’re you talking about?”  Antonio rolled his eyes.  “He left to start a better life for us in America, not to abandon anyone.”
           Sure he did.  Dried by the wind, Teresa’s locks now swung free with skepticism.  “He should’ve taken all of us with him in the first place.”
           Antonio clicked his tongue in annoyance.  “How many times do I have to tell you?  Papà was flat broke at the time.”
           As if he cared…he hardly bothered to write.  “Poor Mamma,” Teresa’s throat constricted.  “Don’t know how many times I caught her crying after Papà shipped out.”
           .  Once, when I asked her why, she whispered more to herself than to me, ‘Tuo padre, he made his promises but who knows who’s keeping him warm in America.’”
           “You’re making that up.”
           “No, è vero.  At the time, I was too young to imagine what she meant.  But, now, an awful bedroom scene comes to mind.”  Teresa grimaced at the vision of her father, his arms and legs entangled with those of a stranger.
           Antonio suppressed a smile.  “Shame on you.”
           I remember her words, Non vedrò mai la terra promessa.’
           Teresa’s mother had convinced herself that her husband would never arrange for her to join him in America, the promised land.   Four years after her husband left them, their mother’s prediction that God would claim her first came to pass.  She literally died of a broken heart, a congenital coronary condition.
           Teresa sniffled.  “We were…così giovani…too young to realize how awful Papà treated Mamma.”  Refusing to add fuel to Teresa’s fire of indignation, Antonio shook his head in denial.
           Barely teenagers at the time of their mother’s death, they had also been too young to fend for themselves.  So, until he could arrange for their immigration to America, their father enlisted the help of their eldest sibling, a married sister who lived in the city of Palermo.
           “Just be thankful for Nina.”  He contemplated why she had agreed to house them, sardines packed tight in the tin can of a small apartment.
           Before he had a chance, Teresa blurted what Antonio was thinking, “Papà never sent her the money he promised her, did he?”
           “He probably forgot,” said Antonio, still feeling obliged to defend his father.
           Antonio can be so naïve.  Teresa propped a hand on her hip.  “Well, at least we earned our keep.”
           Nina had used the situation to her advantage.  In compensation for the expense of two extra mouths to feed, she insisted that Teresa tend to her young children and Antonio stock shelves in her husband’s food market.
           “I’m not sorry.”  Antonio flexed his biceps.  “The hard work helped me build these muscles.  But you?  What did you do besides play with the bambini or fool with Nina’s old sewing machine?”  With a finger held up to his lips, he tilted his head to the side and lifted his eyes to ponder the answer.  “Hmm, let me see.”  He looked back at Teresa and snickered.  “Oh, yes.  You stuffed your face.”
           Antonio’s ill-advised attempt to lighten the mood unsuccessful, Teresa’s cheeks flushed purple with anger.  The nerve of him!  I sewed the children’s clothes at a fraction of the cost that they charged at the negozi.  She flipped up a hand.  “It wasn’t all fun and games!”  Considering the ramifications of all the food she gorged out of boredom, Teresa added, “ Besides, if I hadn’t gained weight then, I’d be invisible by now.
           “Invisible?”  He looked her up and down.  “Not quite.  But I must admit losing all that baby fat does agree with you.”
           Unappreciative of the backhanded compliment, Teresa pouted.  “Thanks.”
           “Hey cheer up!  You seemed so happy the day we found out we were headed for America.”
           Teresa lifted her nose.  “Sì, contenta.  I was thrilled that Papà finally made the arrangements.”   She placed the back of one hand against her forehead and, knees bent, feigned a faint.  “But nearly collapsed once I caught sight of this…” she pointed to a smokestack, “this deathtrap.  I never thought we’d make it this far.”
           “Come on, Teresa, you’re so dramatic.  It’s not that bad.”
           “That’s your opinion!”  Teresa gave Antonio her back then spun around not two seconds later.  “The very day we sailed off, I promised myself that I’d do all I could to help the relatives we left behind.”  Teresa raised a fist in the air.  “And I will!  I swear it.”
           “I’m sure you will, Teresa.”  Antonio smiled.  “You’re very determined when you want to be.”
           Teresa expelled a forced breath, along with some of the bitterness toward her father.  “Antonio, will you be able to pick out Papà in a crowd?  After all these years, I’m not sure I’d recognize him…even if he spat in my face.”
           “Now why would he spit in your face, Teresa?”  Antonio laughed.
           “Well, we’ll be a burden until we can earn a living for ourselves.  And what if he has lady friends…amanti?  We may get in the way.”
           “You must be joking!  È vecchio.  Papà’s over fifty by now, too old to fool around with women.”  Antonio chuckled.  “Sono sicuro il suo uccello non vola.  At his age, I’m sure his bird can’t even lift its head out of its nest.”
           “What’s that supposed to mean?”  Teresa suppressed a giggle.  Let Antonio wonder if I understand.  She figured her brother would be furious if he knew how many advances she’d dodged in the last year alone.
           Antonio sobered.  “Never you mind.”
           Another wave knocked against the side of the freighter.  “Think Papà will try to push me around like he used to when I was a boy?”  Antonio paused and mustered some bravado.  “He better not try or I’ll lift him up by his suspenders…toss him across the room.”
            “Sure…sure.  You say that now.  Vedremo come sei coraggioso.  Let’s see how brave you are after he knocks you off your feet.”  Teresa laughed out loud, baring two black keys that blighted the ivory of her smile.  When she realized she’d exposed a flaw, one that might hamper a future objective, she quickly covered her mouth.  Frowning, she dreaded the possibility that, even in America, she might not be able to afford to have her cavities filled.  How can I attract a rich Americano like this?
            As the ship seesawed once more, the stowaway cat crawled behind the water bucket, curling into a queasy ball of fur.
            Oblivious to anyone’s distress but her own, Teresa paled and clutched her belly.  “Oh no, not again!”  She turned away from her brother but, before she could make it back to the bucket, released a mouthful of stomach acid, barely missing the feet of a passing deckhand.  His face twitching with annoyance, the sailor ran off to fetch a mop.
            "Brava, Teresa, good way to scare off another man!”


          A young man, whose legs stretched long and lanky, slipped out of the front seat of a 1939 LaSalle, slammed the Buick’s door and leaned against its dented frame.  Arms folded tight under the gray of the New Jersey sky, he propped a heel on the running board.  Of all people, why’d I let Iggy convince me to chip in and buy this wreck?  His foot dropped to the ground.  Ought to have my head examined.  Spinning on the soles of his loafers, he tapped an impatient rhythm on the roof of the jalopy as he stared at the entrance of the Motor Vehicle Building.  How much longer?  The time necessary to register a vehicle was more than he expected.
           He glared at the yellow paint lining the curb where the auto was parked in a tow away zone.  Damn Iggy!  Took off with the keys.  Worried that he’d be the one to get the ticket if a cop stopped, he began to pace back and forth in the brisk breeze.  Sure cool for June.  Despite the wind, a fly successfully circled his thick head of brown hair, skied three inches down the length of his nose and ricocheted off its tip to land on the sleeve of his varsity sweater.  Smelling salami and provolone, the insect tried to dive into his pocket.  Finally realizing what the bug was after, the fellow swatted at the pest but, refusing to leave, it circled his head several times before it took off in search of another target.  I wish Mamma would ask before she sticks food in my pockets.  His stomach growling, he retrieved the sandwich, removed its wrapper and devoured it in two bites.  Instead of satiating him, the appetizer-sized panino left him craving even more food.  Crumpling the waxed paper, he tossed it into a nearby trashcan and then resumed his vigil by the car.
            An army jeep, whose headlights and grillwork sneered at the LaSalle’s lackluster finish, halted parallel to the jalopy and the soldier behind the wheel called out to him, “Hey, Mack Matteo…long time no see.”
            Mack squinted, recognizing the bully that had tortured him for four years at Benton High School.  Just my luck.  “Is that you Freddie Brutto?  What brings you here?  I thought your family moved out of this town.”
            “Did,” Freddie verified.  “Just passin’ tru on my way back ta da base.  Re-enlisted.”
            Incredulous, Mack pulled in his chin.  “No kidding?”
            “Yeah, well somebody has ta keep an eye on all dem damn Nazis.”  Freddie pushed his army cap further back on the crown of his head.  “What about yer puny ass, Mack?  Where’d dey station it durin’ da war?”
            Though wanting to give a nasty comeback, Mack hesitated.  “Well, I…uh…never made it into the service.  Graduated from Boston University, though.  Earned a degree in accounting.”  He hoped Freddie didn’t question the reason for his military exemption.  Hate to lie but...  Mack refused to admit, to this high school adversary of all people, that his epileptic condition was what kept him out of the war.  Fortunately, Freddie didn’t ask for he was distracted by Mack’s varsity sweater.
            Acting shocked, Freddie pointed a finger at Mack.  Skinny Matteo made letters?   Don’t tell me college can turn a bookworm inta a jock.”
            “No,” Mack hated to admit.  “Worked part-time as the P.E. Department’s statistical analyst.”
             “Sound’s excitin’,” Freddie spoofed.
            “Saved enough to buy this car.”  Mack smacked the hood of the LaSalle.
            “A real beauty!” Freddie mocked.  “What ya gonna do wit dat degree now, Mister Accountant?”
            “The family business…just started at the bakery.  I’m supervising the storefront for now.”  Mack was expected to eventually assume management of its finances, but he didn’t want to boast anymore than he already had.
            Freddie wrinkled his nose.  “Now tell me, Mack.  Did all da Matteos skip out on der patriotic duty?”
            Mack clicked his tongue in annoyance.  “No, Freddie.  For your information, all my brothers enlisted.”  His voice dropped an octave.  “Romi was killed in action.”
            “Humph.”  Freddie pressed on, “So what happen ta da udder two?”
             “What’s it to you?” Mack spat back.
            “Canna guy ask?”  Freddie blinked his eyes with innocent curiosity.
            Resenting Freddie’s nosiness, Mack expelled an exasperated breath.  “Well, if you must know, Frank came home with a purple heart for a leg injury and, after my dad died, he took over as general manager of the bakery.”  Mack failed to mention that, a few months later, Frank eloped with Geneva Tazzoni, his high school sweetheart.  “But Iggy served until the war ended.”  Frank had been furious that Iggy had toured all of Northern Italy with his war bride instead of rushing home to help him with the business.  “Enough information for you, Freddie?”
            Freddie ignored Mack’s sarcasm.  “Lucky guys…got handed a business on a silver platter.  Well, gotta go.  Too bad der’s no time ta buy ya a beer.  I’m due back at base in a hour.  Shippin’out tomorrow.”  Freddie drove off with a wave and a beep.
            Thank God!  Too soon if I never lay eyes on him again.  Mack shoved his hands into his pockets and kicked a stone across the sidewalk.  Lucky all right.  He had always dreamed he’d work for a large public accounting firm and rack up enough experience to start his own one day.  But since the bakery’s funds financed his degree, his mother had insisted that it was his turn to lift some of the load off his brothers’ shoulders.  Now he was saddled with the bakery too…at least until he paid back the tuition…not quite what he’d planned.
            To start out, Frank had asked Mack to check the bakery’s financial records, to become familiar with the accounting operations and evaluate how smoothly they were running.  Complying with the request, Mack had looked over the bakery books first chance he got.  What a shambles!
            When the bakery’s longstanding accounting clerk, an Italian hired by their father decades earlier, died several months back, Frank had been frantic for a replacement.  Taking advantage of the situation, Iggy recommended a Hungarian bookkeeper, a man who wasn’t as experienced as Iggy claimed, nor as respectable, but who was willing to do whatever Iggy requested of him.  Desperate and overwhelmed by management of the baking and storefront operations, Frank dispensed with the usual background check and hired the Hungarian.
            After spending some time sifting through the sloppy ledgers, Mack had his suspicions that Frank would regret his decision to rely on Iggy’s recommendation for he’d already found several obvious errors.  Mack didn’t look forward to straightening out the mess.  It’ll take me forever.  
            Mack turned toward the Motor Vehicle Building and glanced up at the sturdy figure of a man who jogged down its steps, his hair slick but for the haughty swell in the front.  Midpoint on the stairs, the fellow paused, adjusted his crotch and hiked his trousers higher above his waistline then boosted the collar of his jacket up against his muscular neck.  With shoulders squared, he continued down to the bottom.  Mack grimaced.  Iggy even dresses like a thug.  As his brother approached, Mack ran a hand over his own more conservative haircut while he evaluated Iggy’s rugged features.  What do women find so appealing about him?           
            Iggy smacked his hands together.  “It’s official.  Car’s registered in my name.”           
            “What do you mean: your name?  The car belongs to both of us.  If anything, it’s more mine than yours,” Mack complained.  “I put up the bulk of the money.”
            “Form called for the owner to sign it.  What else did ja want me to do?  You weren’t there.”  Iggy held up a palm.  “No difference anyway.  We both know who owns the car.”  He turned his face to the left to conceal a smirk.  “Sides, I’m the one served with the best mechanics in the army, not you.”  Iggy ran a hand along the body of the LaSalle, circled to its driver’s side and kicked one of the wheels.  “You ain’t got no knack for fixin’ it, do you?
            “Well, no.”  Mack shrugged.  “But I get priority use of the car.  That was the deal.  Right?”
            “Sure.  Take it easy,” Iggy scoffed. “You don’t wanna get too cranked up or you’ll fall down in one of your ugly-ass fits.”  He flipped his wrist in an effeminate mock and raised the pitch of his voice, “If Motor Vehicles gets wind of your delicate condition, they’ll rip that driver’s license outta your back pocket, roll it up and…,” he switched to a deeper and ominous tone, “shove it up your tight ass.”
            Color rose up Mack’s neck as he clenched his fists.  Just like Iggy to hit a guy below the belt.  Iggy was well aware that, for years, Mack’s seizures had been controlled by medication.
             Iggy snickered until his stomach growled.  “Hey, I’m starved.”
             “Then let’s go right home or we’ll be late for dinner again.”
            Licking his lips, Iggy rubbed his abdomen.  “Boy, I’d love to sink my teeth into a juicy-ass steak tonight.”  He shifted his stance and, with arms folded tight, brooded.  “But no doubt Mamma cooked up a meatless dish like she does every stinkin’ Friday.   If not, she’d hop a boat to Rome and confess the mortal sin right to the damn Pope.”  Before Mack had a chance to make his way over to the driver’s side, Iggy slipped behind the wheel and revved the engine.  “Get in.  Hope Frank doesn’t spend the whole fuckin’ meal talkin’ business.”
            Flipping up his hands in defeat, Mack sulked back to the passenger-side door and grudgingly slid into the sedan.  As he slammed the door shut, Iggy zipped the jalopy out of the parking space and floored the gas pedal.
            Mack cringed at the deafening grind of the engine and pressed a hand against the dashboard.  “Slow down, Iggy!” 
           “What a pussy-assed chicken!”  Iggy threw back his head and laughed.  “No wonder the army didn’t want you.”