Like Norman's Chateau Ella and In Love and Friendship, another dark and tangled family saga, full of weird left turns along the road of life for four Italian orphans. To say that Vittorio, Francesca, Luciano, and Guilietta Cesaretti had rotten childhoods is to understate it by a mile. These bambini lost their parents and baby brother in a fire set by Mama Cesaretti, one very mad Tuscan housewife. Little Guilietta is so badly burned that it's easy for the children's awful aunt to fabricate her death. At home in her Florentine palazzo, Auntie Livia also likes to lock the orphans in a rat- infested cellar, which is only one of the reasons why they run away, leaving the wicked witch of Florence dead at the foot of the basement steps. Despite the help of a nice gypsy named Niccolo, Vittorio dies in an auto accident on the way to Naples, with Francesca stowing away on a ship bound for Boston and Luciano rescued by his Uncle Bruno, who turns out to be a nice guy. Meanwhile little Guilietta gets adopted by an Englishwoman and grows up to be a bona fide bad seed, due to the ill effects of her past. The years roll by, with Francesca marrying Niccolo, now an American horse breeder, and Luciano writing bestsellers, but suffering from strange nightmares. By a complicated chain of events, the three reunite in Siena, where Guilietta finally does away with her tortured self--or so it seems until Norman throws her readers for one last loop. This novel is written in effective short takes that go by so fast one doesn't have time to speculate on the implausibility of the plot. It's wired read for lovers of slightly harder-edged pop fiction.