G962 Book Review of Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Publisher: Harper Collins
Type of book: 1949-1954, comedy, theater, acting, being true to self, Italian-Americans, Rosetto, New Jersey, secrets, long engagement, images, feud, driving cab, lying, pretending, friendship
Year it was published: 2017
From Adriana Trigiani, the beloved New York Times-bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife, comes an exhilarating epic novel of love, loyalty, and creativity—the story of an Italian-American family on the cusp of change.
It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.
Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.
From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.
Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.
There are a whole lot of main characters in the book, but the most memorable ones will be Nicky Castone, an orphan who was adopted by his aunt and uncle. Despite their constant love and assurance, Nicky always worries that sooner or later they will leave him. In beginning he has been in the army and fought WWII and has also been engaged for seven years to Teresa "Peachy" DePino and has secretly been involved in a local theater. There is also Teresa "Peachy" DePino who is obsessed with image, pink and has only one goal: to be married. Nicky often feels she doesn't seem him as a person. There is Calla Borelli, the youngest daughter of her father who is passionate about Shakespeare and theater and is determined to save her father's theater at any cost. She tends to be an idealist rather than a realist and is also a good friend to Nicky. There is Hortense Mooney, who is an African-American dispatcher filled with wisdom and has always tried her best to look out for Nicky Castone. Hortense is very passionate about church and her job and doesn't give up in searching for her own purpose. Other characters include Nicky's cousins and cousins-in-law as well as another uncle and Calla's family, but it will take me a very long time to write down all the characters.
There is comedy in tragedy
The story is in third person narrative from practically all of the characters' points of view, yet the reader doesn't get lost with who's who because the author is pretty good at creating unique characters that are highly likely to be remembered and recalled at a future date. I also loved the plot, of the choices that Nicky makes and how endearing he becomes to the audience in spite of them. All of the characters, both main and secondary really shine and could really make the audience relate to them in one way or another, which is a big gift in itself. While almost half of the book spans mere days, its a worthwhile read to really understand Nicky and Calla and their thoughts as well as motivations, and yes, be prepared for comedy and to be shocked (in a good way.) I think that personally I would have liked a mention whether or not Elsa decided to pursue her roots in the book, but do hope to learn it in possible future installments.
(From the site)
Buy the book:Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble, HarperCollins
Books-a-Million, Indiebound, iBooks
Add to Goodreads
Meet the Author:
Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.
Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram
If I could, I'd create a montage of myself running around my hometown and throwing Kiss Carlo to every man, woman or child that I see in my path, so in other words, yes, I loved the book, the story, the characters and the warmth and innocence of characters. I actually can't find anything I didn't like, which speaks very highly because I rarely find books that I have a hard time not criticizing. I previously read the author's other book, but I think because it was part of the series, I didn't like it as much because it seemed a bit foreign. This book however, either its a stand-alone or part of the new series, I loved it and really sped through when it came to reading. When you get a chance, please buy a copy of this book and enjoy the warmth, the characters and wisdom all interspersed in 500 pages that are guaranteed to fly by faster than lightning.
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Jan 15 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
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5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)