Here is a story of the way that women can fool themselves, easily and repeatedly, when a man is willing to take advantage of their trusting nature. It is also a story of incredible persistence, the story of a woman who refused to lose her child to a philandering, home-wrecking sociopath. It may have taken her longer than she wished to get her daughter, Triana, home permanently, but Rosalie Hollingsworth had much to learn about combating her ex-husband. She was naive, not understanding the lengths some men will go to in exacting revenge and trying to humiliate those who have a chance of besting them. Especially if their adversary is a mere woman.
An abused child, Hollingsworth grew up unwilling to trust men:
“I avoided any relationship that might go too far. I was frightened to take steps in the direction of intimacy. Consequently, the men I dated were the ones you could usually trust. If they tried to push a little too far, our relationship ended. Until Franco.”
Franco was handsome and charming, a dangerous combination. He made Rosalie feel good about herself, elevated and ebullient. So she found herself married to the gadabout Italian about whom she really knew very little, living with him and his mother. She soon realized that life with Franco involved never stepping out of line, and never saying anything when he stepped out of line. Which was frequently. He ran through women like he ran through money and was seldom home, but when Rosalie complained, he began to beat her in order to maintain dominance. She had the good sense to take their baby girl and move out. She never suspected that he would trick her into letting him take care of Triana then disappear to Italy with her baby, leaving her with a broken heart and mass of debt.
Rosalie, however, was not without inner resources. She cagily plotted to get Triana back, using Franco’s own tactics to beat him at his cat-and-mouse game. But no matter how careful she was, he kept getting under her skin and getting Triana away from her grasp. In a tale that at times seems almost too unreal for nonfiction, Franco is revealed as so set on destroying Triana’s bond with her mother and on making Rosalie suffer for the crime of defying him that he winds up in South America, living the wretched life of a peasant. Triana, still young and confused, comes to believe that Franco’s madness is the norm. She all but forgets her kind, loving, sane mother as Franco drags her farther and farther away from the known and comfortable world that Rosalie has planned for her.
However, Franco has not counted on Rosalie’s fierce determination. She is finally able to triumph, her will greater than his since she has right and decency on her side. In a book that introduces us to characters from the church to the street, from the law to sleazy mobsters, we are fully involved and, like Rosalie, determined that Franco will not get his way no matter how desperate the situation becomes. His defeat is Rosalie’s ticket to self-worth and Triana’s ticket to a regular peaceful life with a loving mother who has pushed the limits to regain her daughter’s trust.
In the end, it’s all about trust.