- Title: Kiss Carlo
- Author: Adriana Trigiani
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Pages: 544
- Published: June 2017 – Harper
- Source: Publisher
Description: 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. (publisher)
My take: Adriana Trigiani is back with a tale about a big family who live in South Philadelphia. It’s the post-WWII years and people are optimistic about getting back to finding the American dream and all that entails. Trigiani’s characters are relatable yet sometimes larger than life. They have important lessons to learn and are mostly grateful when they do. Most important was finding one’s true purpose and how to recognize it when it appeared. As serious as that sounds there are also laugh-out-loud moments. As in all of her novels, Trigiani’s attention to detailed descriptions left no question in my mind what the setting in any given scene looked like. Her novels often seem cinematic to me and I’d love to see this one on the big screen. With a nod to Shakespeare and Italian operas, Trigiani has written a very heartfelt and entertaining novel. I enjoyed every page.