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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Daryl on 08-18-16
A moving hideaway
Castellamare is a fictional, relatively isolated island - far enough from the mainland to be insular (for good or for ill) but close enough to be accessed by boat. The more things change around them, the more the islanders stay the same, with gossip lasting for decades. The island both grips and spits out its residents, particularly those of the family featured in this lushly written book.
I wanted to visit the House at the Edge of Night, to meet the Espositos, to have a good strong Italian coffee, to spend some time by the sea.
Another reviewer pointed out that you really got to know the first two generations of Espositos really well, less so with the latter two generations. It's probably the only drawback to this book, because Lena in particular was not at all drawn out nearly as well as her grandmother and her great-grandfather were.
It's well-written, well-read, and a perfect summer getaway read.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Richard Delman on 08-10-16
Slow, meandering history.
This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
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.
What do you think your next listen will be?
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.
Would you be willing to try another one of Edoardo Ballerini’s performances?
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.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Not much, which is, I believe, the point.
Any additional comments?
8 of 10 people found this review helpful