The prologue is catchy ad intriguing—essentially what all books should be right off the bat. Girls sat in circles under it and complained about their mothers. They gossiped about whoever showed up late or left early. After they turned twenty, they found somewhere else to talk—they got married or they leaned against the front walls of stores and acted smart—but until then, the olive grove was the center of their world.
But of course, my favorite thing about it is still the budding affection between the passionate Vito Leone and the beautiful Maddalena Piccinelli. It was a time of innocence, and of the carefree days of being young. In many ways, this scene felt foreboding and in turns, poignant and piercing. This was her vision of his life. I see you laughing, chasing a dog, everyone around you with white beards and crooked legs, with canes!
But you are still young, still as much as a boy as today, forever. That is what I see for you; it is here in front of my face. She was making it happen. You saw something about to be taken away from you, and in that moment you saw how much it was worth. God had to recognize it and remember. And then ultimately, my heart breaks for Vito, so dedicated and loyal and loving. He faced the road again, his back to her. Of her sleeping twenty hours a day and not recognizing me when she wakes up. I want you to think of me, Maddalena, with you not here anymore. View 1 comment.
Sep 26, Michael rated it really liked it. My entire Italian-American family has read this trilogy and we are head-nodding in agreement for our admiration. Castellani captures the Italian-American experience like few others. Maddalena the plucky country girl of book one becomes the provincial, ignorant and somewhat bigoted American housewife in book two.
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Her husband, Antonio the interloper, eve My entire Italian-American family has read this trilogy and we are head-nodding in agreement for our admiration. Her husband, Antonio the interloper, eventually becomes the loyal husband deserving of Maddalena's love. All the books flirt with cliche, longeur, soap opera subplots one of which involves watching soaps but always resolve in unpredictable yet realistic ways.
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These books live and breath. Feb 09, Mari rated it it was amazing. Edit after reading entire series: I'm adding back the star I deducted for being forced to part ways with the compelling and beautifully rendered young Vito Leone. I admit to a pang of reader rage at the end of the first book of the three, because it was clear that we would leave behind my favorite character. BUT the three-part series works so well with Maddalena at its center, and renders the Italian immigrant experience so poignantly and accurately, that I had to concede that I trust the autho Edit after reading entire series: I'm adding back the star I deducted for being forced to part ways with the compelling and beautifully rendered young Vito Leone.
BUT the three-part series works so well with Maddalena at its center, and renders the Italian immigrant experience so poignantly and accurately, that I had to concede that I trust the author and he deserves a fifth star. Hope that makes sense!
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My original review: I picked this up with a sense of dread. Nothing good can happen. Post-war life in the provincial towns of Lazio, brilliantly and richly described by a writer whose passion for his subject matter is evident. I loved the passages where characters debated whether to stay in the old country or venture to the new.
The writing is lovely; the ending bold and believable. The book tackles huge subjects with grace. Whether one's duty lies with family or country. Whether sending a child away is an act of love. Whether it makes any difference, to the average citizen, which side of the war the country takes. I just wasn't as into Maddalena as our hero Vito was. Yes, she's an obedient, largely powerless product of her environment, but she was a bit of a twit. Carolina her sister was far more interesting.
Also, I was surprised at how quickly the village rebuilt. Some hill towns of the south stayed ravaged and bombed out well into the s and beyond?
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Perhaps the village's proximity to Rome and the wide road that's almost a character in the novel helped speed things along. Feb 09, Dianna rated it really liked it. Downloading this on a kindle for a recent plane trip I was amazed to discover a real gem. With a first-hand look of the war and how it affected Italy in its aftermath, we see families trying to live through and pick up the pieces literally of their war-torn lives. The town of Santa Cecilia has many tradit Downloading this on a kindle for a recent plane trip I was amazed to discover a real gem. The town of Santa Cecilia has many traditions and close family ties that have to deal with change.
We learn that love gives the strength and determination to carry on regardless of the odds. The author's words are purposeful and precise. Painting a vivid portrayal of the beautiful countryside shredded as a result of enemy invasion and the characters involved, has the reader right in the midst of the action.
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It surprised me how much I enjoyed this novel. I look forward to reading more from this author. Jan 15, Hannah Jane rated it did not like it Shelves: fiction. Depressing, bizarre and disorganized. Oddly enough I was mildly impressed with his descriptions of the scenery.
Kind of reminded me of Cormac McCarthy because I never really became enchanted with the story. Only with the imagery and descriptions. Sep 18, Kathleen rated it really liked it Shelves: authors-new-to-me , favorite-contemporary-authors. Born after the end of World War II, my earliest memories are happy ones of family connections, a great sigh of relief followed by a time of great hope. My mother and aunts no longer had the responsibilities of juggling work shifts and child care. My father and uncles returned safely from their Europe and Pacific assignments.
In this first book of three about Maddalena Piccinelli and her family, Christopher Castellani captures a big story about a group of characters in the small town o Born after the end of World War II, my earliest memories are happy ones of family connections, a great sigh of relief followed by a time of great hope. In this first book of three about Maddalena Piccinelli and her family, Christopher Castellani captures a big story about a group of characters in the small town of Santa Cecilia in Italy from In many ways, the stories may seem similar to those of our elderly relatives during WWII…lives changed, sacrifices made, loneliness and courage.
The families in this novel, however, were also forced to evacuate their small village to seek a safer haven and then, to return only to rebuild the entire town. Here, Castellani offers the reader the gift of family, a sense of place, and a longing for more without knowing where that is coming from. Decisions made reflect the times. That she played such a small part in her own life did not enrage her.
Not now. Not yet. Jul 14, Elaine Dimopoulos rated it it was amazing.
Chris Castellani is right up there with the M. Andersons of the world, the writers who make the rest of us want to give up because we can never approach them in talent. Some people get all the breaks. I love Maddalena, love her sweetness, her composure, her sense of duty occasionally corrupted b Chris Castellani is right up there with the M.
I love Maddalena, love her sweetness, her composure, her sense of duty occasionally corrupted by passion.
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