A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting island off the coast of Italy - combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry of works by Isabel Allende.
Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten but not far enough to escape from the world's troubles. At the center of the island's life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where the community gathers to gossip and talk.
Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children - three sons and an inquisitive daughter - grow up and struggle with both humanity's cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.
Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness.
Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories - and this magical novel takes you there.
"Catherine Banner's latest is a masterful piece of storytelling, infused with the miraculous (both in stories and in everyday life) while maintaining the difficult balance between the explainable versus the inexplicable. Through the life of a single man - a man not noteworthy in the eyes of the world - and his family, Banner touches on such broad themes as community and the way global events play out in individual lives and larger society. And just as the broader themes affect the more personal ones, Banner's style echoes the book's content: The House at the Edge of Night is captivating and beautifully rendered." (Sara Gruen, author of At the Water's Edge)
"My admiration for The House at the Edge of Night is boundless. Catherine Banner's writing is preternaturally mature, distinct, clear, and strikingly beautiful. As I read on, I felt the resonance of classic legend and myth, the stuff of Homer, building around this world that is timeless yet utterly its own.... A gorgeous, deeply moving novel of life across a sweep of time and generations." (Peter Nichols, author of The Rocks)
"To the long, eclectic tradition of the island novel, The House at the Edge of Night is a sparkling addition. Catherine Banner has created a vast world unto itself of the fictional island of Castellamare, intricately compressed and marvelously textured - a feat reserved for the most ingenious and intuitive of writers. That this is Catherine Banner's first adult novel makes it all the more remarkable." (Nicholas Christopher, author of A Trip to the Stars)
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A moving hideaway
Slow, meandering history.
I think that people who are extremely interested in Italian history would appreciate it. The book is barely a novel. It is, as the blurb says, the story of the people who live on a tiny island off the coast of Italy. The characters in the book have rather ordinary lives, with the exception of the primary family, who lose two of their sons in WWII. Their daughter, who gets way too much attention from the author (unless this is an autobiography) falls in love with Robert, an American who loves her and then goes back to the US for five years. She pines away. You would be forgiven for thinking that this is an Italian soap opera.
Nothing like this. I love Edoardo Ballerini, but he is beginning to amass a collection of audiobooks which focus in very large detail on the history of Italy, which may be of interest to a small audience of readers, but, frankly, I am not among them.
Certainly. I love listening to him. His voice is beautiful, the mellifluous tones of Italian and several other languages just melting in his mouth, so to speak. He is extremely versatile, and has read a number of American novels that are well plotted, with characters who interest you. The Owen Laukkenan books are delightful to read, both the plots and the characters are the work of a truly gifted author, and Mr. Ballerini does them justice. Carla, an FBI agent, and Stevens, a Minnesota police officer, make a great team. Come to think of it,I am really eagerly anticipating the next book by these two men.
Not much, which is, I believe, the point.
- Richard Delman