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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

Title: Kiss Carlo
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Publisher: 10 August 2017 by Simon & Schuster UK
Pages: 540 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, romance
My Rating: 3.5 crowns

From the beloved bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife comes an exhilarating novel of friendship, family, love and loyalty.
It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia is bursting with possibility. The arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone,a young man who, orphaned as a child, now lives with his Uncle Dom and his large and boisterous family in the city. Surely there is more to life than this, despite a steady job in the family business and a sweet-natured fiancee?
In secret, Nicky begins moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theatre company and is quickly drawn to the stage, its colourful players… and to feisty Calla Borelli, who runs the show. Before long he finds himself on the horns of a dilemma: can he return to the conventional life his family expects of him? Or does he have what it takes to chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes?
Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this epic 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. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love and the abiding power of la famiglia.
My Thoughts

I am such a fan of Adriana Trigiani’s writing, so it’s hard to turn down a new read from her. And whilst this read contained all her usual flair, it proved just a little too long to be truly compelling. At over 500 pages this is an epic family drama of Italian-American families in post war USA. Inspired by her own family experiences, Adriana details tales of love, loyalty, adventure and hope in this post war society.

“He leaned over the sink, looked in the mirror, and thought, Everything must change.

There are many tales to enjoy from this book from the feuding brothers to taxi dispatcher, Hortense, to the variety of comic daughter-in-laws.  However, the bulk of the story revolves around Nicky and Calla and their respective journeys: Nicky’s search for a life with meaning and Calla’s quest to save the family owned theatre. The problem is in fact, there are just too many stories all loosely based around family, and it’s difficult to keep track of.
“Nicky Castone decided he must not die until he had lived.”

If some of the plots could have been trimmed or even excluded, it would have made a world of difference, as this book seemed to stretch on for far too long. I struggled to appreciate the whole ambassador’s role and the mistaken identity seemed a little far fetched. And with SO many characters to keep track of, it took some of the enjoyment out of it - many storylines and dilemma’s to resolve, it detracted from getting deeper into the true search for meaning for the main characters.

“Why are you so determined? Who put you in charge of the happy ending of my life story?”

Adriana Trigiani could never really write a ‘bad’ book and this simple tale, with no great highs or lows,  has much to offer. You respect Nicky’s desire for more from life, you rally behind Calla’s efforts to save her livelihood and passion; but the book needed to be shorter and more interactive to score higher from me.

“What did you mean by that? If something doesn’t happen to you —”
“You heard right. If something doesn’t happen to me, this life is all for nothing.”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

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