PERSONAL: Born in Syracuse, NY; daughter of John DeJohn (a boxing manager). Education: Degrees from Michigan State University (theater), University of Utah (psychology), and Fordham University (psychology).
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022.
Antonio's Wife (novel), Regan Books (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Jacqueline DeJohn was inspired to write her first novel, Antonio's Wife, by stories told to her by her father about her grandmother Filomena, who came to the United States as a mail-order bride. Although Filomena's mother, whose name was Anna, eventually moved from Italy to New York City, Filomena's abusive husband refused to take his wife down from their home in Syracuse, New York, to see the woman. The young protagonist in Antonio's Wife, which is set in the early 1900s, is Mina DiGianni, a lacemaker who came to the Lower East Side of New York to marry Antonio, an abusive ditch digger. The seamstress is promoted to be the personal dresser of Francesca Frascatti, an opera diva who is in town to sing Tosca, and who is accompanied by Dante Romano, a detective Frascatti has hired to help her find her abandoned daughter.
DeJohn hints early on that the two women are actually mother and daughter, but before the fact is firmly established, Mina and Dante fall in love. To complicate matters, the missing daughter's paternal grandfather, Don Emilio, who blames Francesca for his son's death, wants to find the girl first and take her back to Italy. Antonio has a lover, Kathleen, described by a Publishers Weekly contributor as "an Irish saloon owner so cartoonishly slutty and fiendish that she raises the she-devil to new heights of cliche." The writer called Antonio's Wife "one roiling historical costume fest and a speedy, digestible read." As the story proceeds, the New York police, as well as the Black Hand—a Serbian secret society—become involved, and Mina's life is put in danger. Booklist contributor Carol Haggas called the novel "good, old-fashioned storytelling at its best."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2004, Carol Haggas, review of Antonio's Wife, p. 820.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004, review of Antonio'sWife, p. 6.
Library Journal, February 15, 2004, Kathy Piehl, review of Antonio's Wife, p. 160.
Publishers Weekly, February 16, 2004, review of Antonio's Wife, p. 152.
Washington Post Book World, April 4, 2004, Elizabeth Gold, review of Antonio's Wife, p. T6.
New Times Online, http://nwtimes.rway.com/ (March 10, 2004), Molly English, "A Grand Secret,"*