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. Read more...
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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.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR - Los Angeles Public Library - Kirkus Reviews
"Captivating . . . Catherine] Banner's four-generation saga is set on an island near Sicily, where myths of saints get served up with limoncello at the Esposito family's bar. . . . The island is fictional, but consider this dreamy summer read your passport."--People
"A lusty page-turner that weaves romance, rivalry and the intricacies of family expectations into one glorious tale."--Minneapolis Star Tribune
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 cafe 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.
Praise for The House at the Edge of Night
"A gorgeous, sweeping story set over four generations . . . calls to mind Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Beautiful Ruins."--Interview
"Like pictures of a childhood summer, or a half-forgotten smell, this book is sweet and heady with nostalgia . . . and] comforting as a quilt."--NPR
"Rich and immersive, this book will take you away."--Vox
"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 . . . captivating and beautifully rendered."--Sara Gruen, author of At the Water's Edge
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Banner, the author of three YA novels, makes her adult debut with a fantastic chronicle of several generations of a family living on a somewhat otherworldly Italian island. Raised by a kindly doctor who takes him from a Florence orphanage, a grown Amedeo Esposito moves to gossipy Castellamare to become the town physician in the early 20th century. He marries the smart, capable Pina Vella, but not before conducting an ill-fated affair with the mayor’s wife, which results in two of Amedeo’s children being born to two different women on the same night. After Amedeo loses his livelihood, he and Pina transform their storied, titular home into a successful bar, which is eventually looked after by their youngest child, Maria-Grazia, during WWII. In her role, she becomes privy to all the townspeople’s secrets, conducts a courtship with wounded British soldier Robert Carr, and, much to her parents’ consternation, finds herself drawn to her half-brother, Andrea. Meanwhile, her sibling Flavio, a former Fascist and her only brother to survive the war, is shunned by the community after rumors destroy his reputation. Banner extends the scope to Maria-Grazia’s two disparate, warring sons, Sergio and Giuseppino, who are willed the bar by Amedeo, and Sergio’s daughter, Lena, who gives up her plans of becoming a doctor to run the business. All the while, Banner constructs a town life with an engaging cast of characters. Her story has a touch of magical realism that filters down from the island’s many legends, collected in a book within the book by Amedeo. Banner deftly touches on weightier themes while weaving an enchanting narrative, the events of which extend to the present. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment. (July)
A Sicilian serenade
British writer Catherine Banner’s first novel for adults, The House at the Edge of Night, takes place on the imaginary Italian island of Castellamare, off the coast of Sicily. Amedeo Esposito, the island’s only doctor, finds himself jobless after being suspected of sleeping with il conte’s wife. To support his own wife and their newborn child, Amedeo takes over a café bar perched high on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. Among the bougainvillea, serenaded by the crashing waves, this house at the “edge of night” becomes the place generations of Espositos and other islanders gather to gossip, pray, lament and face the changing times.
The novel begins in 1914 and spans almost a century. Life on the island is increasingly influenced by the two world wars, tourism, politics and other world events. In fact, so fine-tuned are the historic events within the story that one almost forgets that Castellamare doesn’t actually exist. Just like the characters, the reader is torn between the romance of island life and the world beyond. This magical novel is a fantastic Italian escape with just the right dose of drama, love and hope. If possible, enjoy with a glass of limoncello.