Giovanni Talamini makes a decision to “break with the family tradition” by walking away from the ice cream business that his great-grandfather Giuseppe began.
In the late 1800s, Giuseppe found his life’s passion, gathering snow from the mountains and creating rich ice cream. Thus begins a business that churns through the lives of four generations of the Talamini family. Giuseppe’s son loved to invent things, but he sublimated his desire and assumed his intended role as ice cream maker. Later, his two sons, Giovanni and Luca, are expected to enter the family business. Giovanni distances himself and heads to college; later he travels the world as director of the World Poetry Festival. Luca remains in the business, finding his passion (or is it a diversion?) in creating unique flavors. In the end, Luca’s son must decide what his role in the family will be. In his U.S. debut, Dutch novelist van der Kwast artfully strings together a series of chapters that could conceivably be stand-alone short stories into a cohesive whole that shows the impact, for better or worse, that family members can have on each other's lives. Giovanni is narrator, observer, and secret keeper. Characters seem to live in a cloud of separation despite being surrounded by those they love. The ultimate decision as to how each character chooses to live affects present and future generations of their family in ways both expected and unexpected. Poetry and history provide the mortar that binds the story together. Van der Kwast tells his multigenerational tale with great sensitivity, demonstrating through powerful observations the long-term effect of one person’s decision upon others throughout the generations.
A delightful read; smooth as ice cream on a hot summer day.