The secret to happiness

Blood Feud by Daniel Harris

I gave it 4 stars.

blood fuedDominic Galetti is an Italian immigrant in the USA. He runs a small grocery store and offers the personal touch that the larger stores cannot provide. He knows his customers, treats them like family friends and in turn earns their loyalty. His savvy business brain makes him a great component with the retailers and food producers, he will not settle for poor quality and only wants the very best for his store and his customers.

When Russell Riley begins work there at the age of 13 he cannot ever imagine that his first part-time job would offer him the experiences of a lifetime. As the business expands and more stores are opened, Dominic’s sons take over much of the day-to-day operations, sticking steadfastly to their father’s principles whereby ‘Cash is King’, thus avoiding debt and not relinquishing any control to the banks. Russell is taken on full-time after the Galetti’s pay for his university education and he gradually rises to the position of president – the only non-family member on the board and with any authority.

When Dominic dies and the business is divided equally between the two brothers, Russ is given nominal stake of 25 shares and the business continues to prosper. The untimely death of one of the brothers, Dominic Jr, causes devastation for his widow and young family. However, true to form, the elder brother Joe steps in to support them and even attends all of the school functions in his brother’s place.

It all seems so wholesome, until the widowed Maria finds that some of her stock has been sold without her knowledge. The end result is a bitter court case, pitching both sides of the Galetti family against each other. With a business now worth billions, there is a lot at stake and Russ’s own shares have not only escalated in value but also place him at the centre of a very hostile battle for control of the business empire.

Aghast that such a family, with such a high moral code, can be at loggerheads with each other over money, Russ decides that he can no longer be a part of it. He reflects on his own life, on the principles passed on to him by Dominic Senior and chooses to walk away. With the constant support of his own wife, mother and family, he realises that his own life has been blessed and he owes that to the love of his family, not the money in the bank. He becomes disheartened and disappointed that the business to which he gave so much of his time and loyalty had been the undoing of the Galetti family, knowing the old man would never have tolerated such behaviour had he still lived.

On the face of it, this story seems almost biographical and as such makes the reader truly believe in the characters. Whilst it is a work of fiction, the detailed descriptions and explanations of the industry ring true. Yet the overwhelming sensation is one of sadness. The small grocery store run by Dominic Galetti serves as an inspiration to strive for quality, loyalty and common sense in the business world. When the principles of decency and honesty become blurred by greed, then everything suffers as a result. What was once a family enterprise becomes a cynical endeavour, fuelled by money over family values.

I read this book in just a few days, and was captivated by the innate goodness of the Galetti’s at the beginning, only to be let down by their resulting feuding and hostilities. A great story, but unfortunately there is no happy ending for the family. For Russell Riley, however, he understands that  money does not buy happiness. He moves onto pastures new, surrounded by his friends and family, knowing that their love and support will keep him going.

It’s no secret.


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