The Infinite Now
September, 1918. World War I has nearly finished, but that makes little difference to those still trying to live through each day. Men and boys are still in Europe, fighting for their lives, while, in Philadelphia, a very different fight rages. Influenza has struck, but this is a very different disease from the sort most are familiar with. It will come to be known as the Spanish Flu, infamous for striking especially at people who are meant to be in their prime, but, for now, it is only a ravaging disease making its way across the country.
In the middle of this arrives Fiora Vicente, daughter of the recently deceased Rosina Vicente. No one wants to take her in, so she is set on the doorstep of an old man, Don Sebastiano. She’s better off with him, the woman who brought her there says. If he dies because of her, it won’t matter quite so much. Fiora, naturally, is bitter about the whole arrangement, even more so because her former landlord sent her away without allowing her to gather up any of her mother’s belongings. When Don Sebastiano encourages her, she goes back to her mother’s old apartment to collect just one thing: a curtain. It does have sentimental value, but more importantly, it is a fortune-teller’s curtain and part of the reason Fiora and her mother are so respected and feared. Fiora and her mother can tell the future, but they can also direct it and lay curses on those who displease them.
The curtain, too, has two sides to its nature. Despite having only the best intentions, Fiora winds up trapping her street in a bubble of time, making it so that nothing can change. The influenza does not kill so quickly, but neither can people recover from it.
I fell in love with this book from the moment it began. I have always had a place in my heart for books about this time period, and Mindy Tarquini does a phenomenal job at capturing not only the feel of the time but the feel of people who would have lived there. Her secondary characters fill the pages with life, from the delightfully charming Carlo to the more chillingly charming Guaritrice, who offers herbal teas to the people of Philadelphia. Most interesting of all, though, is Fiora. She is not at all likable, but she is believable, which is far more important.
This book reached out and struck right at my heart. I found myself falling in love – falling hard – with the story, at times nearly crying. If you want to lose yourself in a fantasy that feels all too real, look no further than The Infinite Now.