So – I admit it – the description and the title grabbed my attention – read on to find out about All This Talk of Love by Christopher Castellani, where you can purchase it yourself, and where to find the author.
All This Talk of Love
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Paperback and eBook
Purchase: Algonquin § Indie Bound § Amazon § Barnes & Noble § Powell’s Books
About the Book:
It’s been fifty years since Antonio Grasso married Maddalena and brought her to America. That was the last time she would ever see her parents, her sisters and brothers—everything she knew and loved in the village of Santa Cecilia, Italy. She locked those memories away, as if Santa Cecilia stopped existing the very day she left. Now, with children and grandchildren of her own, a successful family-run restaurant, and enough daily drama at home, Maddalena sees no need to open the door to the past and let the emotional baggage and unmended rifts of another life spill out.
But Prima, Antonio and Maddalena’s American-born daughter, was raised on the lore of the Old Country. And as she sees her parents aging, she hatches the idea to take the entire family back to Italy—hoping to reunite Maddalena with her estranged sister and let her parents see their homeland one last time. It is an idea that threatens to tear the Grasso family apart, until fate deals them some unwelcome surprises and their journey home becomes a necessary voyage.
An examination of the multiple permutations of love, loss and memory all viewed from the eyes of Italian immigrants, this touching and poignant book opens a door into love, and all of the ways it can shelter, protect, shield and not surprisingly, thwart.
Told from several perspectives, the characters all begin to form an oddly poetic perspective for the reader, as everyone’s views combine to give you a fuller picture. Like all families, the Grassos have their levels of dysfunction, secrets, tragedies and attachments; what strikes is the romanticized and cleansed view of the old country. Not uncommon for immigrants I have known, this childlike attachment to the “what may have been had I stayed” all intermingles with those early memories that are so sweet in retrospect, and cause such confusion in this story. Contrast those emotions with the what is of the now, and answers that are slowly revealed as the secrets and tragedies are examined and brought out of shadow.
What could have fallen into the melodramatic and soupy, the characters all manage to speak with voices that feel as if they live and breathe before you. While I did find that some of the tragedies were not fully divulged, and I wished that the trip to Italy was less anticlimactic for the entire family, this was a successful and memorable book that will encourage me to seek out this author’s other titles.
I received a pre-release ARC copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I gave All This Talk of Love by Christopher Castellani 4 out of 5 stars.
About the Author:
Christopher Castellani was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. His parents immigrated to the United States from a small village in Italy in the years following World War II, and their experiences have been a significant inspiration. A Kiss From Maddalena, Christopher’s first novel, was published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in April 2003, and was subsequently published in Australia, the U.K., The Netherlands, Germany and Thailand. In 2004, Christopher was awarded the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction for A Kiss from Maddalena. In 2005, Castellani published The Saint of Lost Things, which continues the story of A Kiss from Maddalena but is a stand-alone novel. The same is true for his most recent novel, All This Talk of Love (Algonquin, February 2013), which completes the trilogy, and which has received much early critical acclaim.
The author was educated at Swarthmore College, received his Masters in English Literature from Tufts University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University. He works as Artistic Director of Grub Street, one of the nation’s leading independent writing centers, and also teaches fiction in the MFA Program at Warren Wilson, at Swarthmore College, and at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Christopher Castellani lives in Boston, MA, where he is at work on his fourth novel.