Warm but clichéd family tales.

Sweet Figs, Bitter Greens

A sprawling epic novel about an Italian-American family.

Gestri (Time Takes No Time, 2007) introduces readers to the Salvatori family, whose four children grow up under their demanding father Rinaldo, an Italian-born immigrant with a dark past who purchases an opera house at the outset of the book. Rinaldo is supported by his patient, loving wife, Giuliana, who keeps a steady stream of Italian food on the table and struggles to hold the family together. The story centers mostly on the family’s only daughter, Lucy, who grows to adulthood in mid-20th-century America. Lucy experiences many ups and downs: Catholic school; becoming friends with Jimmy, a little person; not being asked to prom; finding herself in the middle of a love triangle between charming movie star Tavis Gregg and her friend Valentino, who works at the Salvatoris’ opera house; and visiting Italy to finally put Rinaldo’s past to rest. The rest of the Salvatori children have their own adventures, including stints in Korea, career aspirations, marriages, and uncovering their own and the family’s secrets. The characters come to life, especially for readers who grew up in Italian-American communities at that time, and Gestri has clearly done her homework about Italy, American history and opera. While the characters could be anyone’s neighbors, they lack dramatic arcs. The prose is bare bones, with stilted dialogue, e.g., “Jeepers, Mister, that’s swell,” and scant description flattens the scenes. In addition, an abundance of nicknames and several unannounced jumps in chronology are confusing. Fans of Gestri’s previous books or of Italian family sagas may find something to enjoy here, but other readers may do better elsewhere.

Warm but clichéd family tales.

Pub Date: April 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1480278080

Page Count: 696

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more