#BookReview : The Legacy of Us by Kristin Contino

Reviewer: Kate

I received a copy of The Legacy of Us by Kristin Contino in exchange for an honest review.

the legacy of usSynopsis:

Taking readers from 1905 Italy to present-day Philadelphia, The Legacy of Us uncovers how the lives of three generations of women are changed by love, loss and one little necklace…

Liz Moretti thought she knew almost everything about her grandmother, Ella, from her love of “The Golden Girls” to the perfect pound cake recipe. But when Ella passes away and Liz finds a cameo locket with a marriage proposal engraved inside (from a man who was not her grandfather), she realizes that sometimes a person’s secrets are discovered only after they’re gone.

On top of losing Ella, Liz’s career as a jewelry designer is stagnant and her love life lacks sparkle, too. When she reconnects with the one who got away, Liz thinks maybe things are finally starting to look up. But after a few drinks and a trip down a flight of stairs, Liz wakes up to realize the cameo is gone. Her ex offers to look for it, but so does Justin, the intriguing new guy in her apartment building.

While dealing with her feelings for two very different men and generally trying to reinvent her mess of a life, Liz finds answers and solace in Ella’s diary. The story of the cameo, and the relationship between her grandmother and great-grandmother, an outspoken socialite from Italy, inspires Liz to grow up and accept responsibility for her missteps. Eventually she must choose between the life she thought she wanted and the promise of something better.


In The Legacy of Us, Kristin Contino exposes a hundred-year-old family tradition—women living a less-than-desirable life. Liz Moretti, our modern woman, is unhappy: her grandmother Ella has just passed away, her old flame has just randomly showed up in her life again, and her burgeoning business seems stuck on pause. This isn’t where she thought she would be in her late twenties. She thought she would be happily married with kids and a successful business, just like her grandmother had been—no, not her mother Lilly; she and Liz do not get along. But then Lilly and Ella hadn’t gotten along… oh, and Ella and her mother Gabriella hadn’t gotten along either. This is part of the tradition, a symptom it seems of the less-than-desirable existence that each has been subjected to by the vagaries of life. The title of the book might as well have been “Life Sucks.” And at first, I thought this book did too. But, as each page turned, I realized that there was more to this than just that.

Liz is puzzled to receive Nan Ella’s desk as part of her inheritance. But she quickly learns it’s not the desk alone, but what it holds that is her true treasure, a necklace. Tracing the history of that necklace leads Liz to the origins of her inheritance, the legacy of her female lineage is her true gift. None of the women in Liz’s line are immediately endearing. (Liz is a bit of a brat, which makes sense because she comes from a long line of brats who seem to turn into bitter women.) But their collective story is poignant. Four generations of women try to find their way through the disappointments and disillusionment of life. With the discovery of a little necklace, Liz just might break the pattern of the past and balance life’s sourness with love’s sweet.

Rating: 3 ½ Stars


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