Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Book Review: "Kiss Carlo" by Adriana Trigiani #KissCarlo #TLCBookTours

Kiss Carlo Adriana Trigiani
Date Finished: July 4, 2017
Date Published June 20, 2017
ISBN: 9780062657275
Genre: Historical Fiction (mid-20th Century USA)
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Stories about big families, novels about the theater, coming of age books,

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.

My Thoughts:
Oh, I love me some Adriana Trigiani!  There are few authors who can create such lively personalities and families that I just want to crawl into the book and live with them.  Kiss Carlo is no exception!  This epic book follows Nicky Castone, the Palazzini family and the Borelli theater company as they navigate their way through the wilds of mid-century Philadelphia (okay, I know Philly doesn't sound too exotic, but it really works here).

I have read many, but not all, of Trigiani's books and this is the first one where the clearly main character is a man.  In my experience, writers who generally focus on main characters of one gender try writing a main character of the other gender sometimes have problems.  Trigiani does not--Nicky is a fun, likable, and believable young man.  He's the sort of guy who could easily step into the "book boyfriend" role, yet still comes across as complex.

Like many of Trigiani's other works, this one features a large cast of supporting characters.  Most of the characters fall into one of two categories: the Palazzini family or the Borelli theater company.  I will admit that some of Nicky's male cousins ran together in my mind, but their wives were all distinct and interesting, as well as his matriarchal Aunt.

Despite having so many characters, as interesting as they are, Trigiani is still able to tell a fairly well-defined story.  There are a few things that either should have been better integrated or omitted--mainly the split within the Palazzini family that seems to be mentioned at the beginning and again at the end, but not really at any point in between.  Even though this book is a bit of a chunkster, I enjoyed the narrative so much that I would not have minded more pages to expand on that plot point.

I'm always a little wary of movies made from books, but this is the first novel that I've read in quite some time where I realized that it would make an excellent film!  The plot moves at the right clip that would translate well to the screen and, well, Nicky is so wonderful that I want to actually see him.  So, for all you film execs who read this review, you know what to do!

All in all, Kiss Carlo was the perfect book, both heartwarming and enthralling.  I would invite anyone to crawl inside this world to experience it for yourself.

About the Author:
Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Visit Adriana at her website: www.adrianatrigiani.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

To read more about this title, check out some of the other stops on the blog tour!

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