Category Archives: Varina Palladino

Channel 12 Made In Connecticut

I forgot to put this up in here! D’oh! What fun this was. Thanks, Channel 12, cameraman Mark, and the lovely Rebecca “Becky” Surran.

Made in Connecticut


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Tasting Table’s 13 Best Food Fiction Books

Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story sits comfortably and squarely in the middle of this pack of fun-looking foodie books, I’ve already put many of them on my list.

“…Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story” by Terri-Lynne DeFino is a triumph in exploring complicated family relationships, generational disconnects, and what it takes to run a small family business. The food element in this one? The Palladino family runs an Italian grocery store, which, if you’ve never been in one, is quite the undertaking. With lots of nods to Italian culture, cooking, and crises, this book will keep you on your toes and make you hungry at the same time.”

13 Best Food Fiction Books <–if you want to read the whole review, and see the other books ranked.


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Vodka O’Clock Podcast

I had a great time chatting with Amber about Varina, writing, cats, and New Jersey.

If you are so inclined. <–link to podcast


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Book Club Discussion Questions: Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story

  1. Why do you think Terri-Lynne DeFino included the glossary of Jersey Italian slang in this family drama? Did you know any of the terms before you read this book? Which were your favorites? What did you think when you found out who’d been writing the entries all along?
  2. When we first meet Varina Palladino, she has been carefully saving for years to fulfill her dream of a European river cruise. Do you have a similar dream? What were you willing to sacrifice to fund it?
  3. Was it a good idea for Sylvia and Donatella to create the special is your grandfather single? ad to help Varina meet men? What are their secret—or not-so-secret—individual reasons for doing it? What are the unexpected consequences of setting the plan in motion?
  4. The big change in Varina’s social life turns out to be finding a new female friend instead of the boyfriend the ad was intended to catch. What is Ruth’s role in Varina’s life? Does platonic female friendship fulfill her in ways that a new boyfriend might not?
  5. Paulie observes that in his long friendship with the chronically volatile Donatella, “waiting for it to happen—whatever it happened to be—was almost worse than the actual, inevitable event.” Have you had the same experience with a friend or family member? How does the Palladino family cope with Donatella’s periods of instability?
  6. Sylvia tells Donatella: “Just stop all this….Think before you do these things. You can’t feel your way through this world. It just doesn’t work, believe you me.” Is she right? Who else in the book is feeling their way through the world?
  7. Once Sylvia has met John, her lonely life changes: “Sylvia was happy. Not just happy; blissfully so. Cliché as it was, there was no other words to describe the heady feeling of being loved, of belonging.” How does Sylvia’s very late-in-life romance change the dynamic of the Palladino family as well as her own life? Do you know anyone who has experienced a similar December-December love?
  8. Does what we learn about Sylvia’s past as a mother that cast her relationship with her children and grandchildren—especially Donatella—in a different light? How does that revelation affect our understanding of Sylvia’s choices?
  9. In the book’s final chapter, Vincent observes “If being a Palladino had taught him anything in his short life, it was that normal didn’t exist.” Do you agree? In what ways is the Palladino family normal or not normal?
  10. The title of this book is Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story, but the romances in the book don’t actually involve Varina. Why do you think Terri-Lynne DeFino chose that title? Discuss all the different kinds of love and love stories that are woven into this novel.
  11. Towards the end of the story, Paulie thinks, “the way ahead was going to be long and fraught, but it would be beautiful.” Do things turn out that way? What do you think happens to the characters in this book in the years after it ends?


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Romper Article

So I can always find it and bask in the love, and the knowledge that I accomplished one of my greatest life goals–teaching my kids that I’m a person. ❤

My Mom Wrote A Book About Motherhood


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4.5 Star Review: Novels Alive

Here’s the whole review.

And here are the best bits:

Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story by Terri-Lynne DeFino is certainly a love story, but not a romance. It is about the love that surrounds a large New Jersey Italian family.


There is so much to love about Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story. There were plots and subplots galore in this bigger-than-life, multigenerational family. DeFino clearly made it her goal for readers to understand and appreciate this unique culture. It worked for me. I grew to love the family and each imperfect member of it.

Varina Palladio’s Jersey Italian Love Story is as warm, as fragrant, and as filling as excellent Italian food.

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Audio Clip~Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story

First few pages of Varina, read by Eva Kaminksy on Sound Cloud.

Huzzah! So happy and proud.

(Don’t be confused–the sample goes right into Berenstain Bears.)


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25% off Pre-Order!

Barns & Noble is doing a 25% off all pre-orders made between January 25 and 27. That’s hard copy, audio, and digital! Of course, Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story is included. Huzzah!

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Digital Excerpt: Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story

Click on this link to read the first two chapters of Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story.

The release is in nineteen days. Nineteen. Eeep!


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Booklist (Starred Review!)

Booklist Review

Passions run high in the Palladino household. Seventy-year-old Varina’s millennial children, sons Dante and Davide and daughter Donatello, can go from zero to 60 squabbling over memories of idiotic pranks played as toddlers but will just as easily rally with mutual support when true trouble strikes. Varina’s 92-year-old mother, Sylvia, is an equal handful, frail one minute, feisty the next. Add the unending responsibility of running the popular Italian deli she started with her late husband, and Varina finds she is in serious need of a vacation. A chance encounter with a woman at the travel agency rewards Varina with both the traveling companion and best friend she has long been looking for. But with a large, messy family like Varina’s, something is bound to conspire to keep her from her trip, things like an internet-dating scheme cooked up by Sylvia and Donatello to activate Varina’s non-existent love life or Donatello’s increasingly complicated one. No region of the country has a lock on Italian culture, but DeFino’s zesty homage to the northern New Jersey microcosm delights with its universality and specificity. What was it Tolstoy said about families? Make that famiglias, and the Palladino clan more than qualifies.— Carol Haggas

Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story
By Terry-Lynne DeFino.
Feb. 2023. 416p. Morrow, $27.99 (9780063228436); e-book (9780063228450).
REVIEW. First published January 1, 2023 (Booklist).


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