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An upmarket, literary novel, La Valise is about finding the courage to live life on one's own terms. Steffi Benedetto has always wanted something else—something more—from her life. Growing up in a tight-knit Italian community in Little Italy of the Bronx, the expectations for her life were stiflingly predictable: work in her parents’ Italian restaurant, marry a good Italian boy, raise children. But when Steffi wanders into Babette’s French pâtisserie, the café owner empowers Steffi to rethink everything and embrace her lifelong love of France; a love instilled in her by a Francophile grandmother with whom Steffi shared a passion for eclairs, the ballet, little black dresses, and red lipstick.


Having saved money, gained acceptance to cooking school, and separated from her young husband and controlling parents, Steffi makes it to Paris. But, as Steffi quickly learns, it will take more than arriving in the city of her dreams to make her dreams a reality. Will Steffi be able to overcome a luggage mix-up, stolen purse, ruthless classmates, the charm of French men, too much French wine, and her biggest challenge of all—her own self-doubt? With the help of some unlikely friends and a gold tube of Chanel lipstick, Steffi discovers the confidence to march towards a future of her own making.


Readers will be moved by Steffi’s journey of self-acceptance and discovery, just as they were in Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. Fans of Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate will find themselves salivating over the lush descriptions of French cooking, while binge watchers of Emily in Paris will find some themselves similarly spirited away by the art, culture, and fashion of the City of Lights.

My post-graduate writing training includes courses at Westport Writers Workshop, Sarah Lawrence Writers Institute, and Fairfield University. My short story, “The Newel Post,” appeared in the March 2021 issue of The Dillydoun Review. I have self-published two collections of short stories, Resolve and The Chapel Ghost. A third collection will be out before the end of 2023.

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