Blog Book Tour | “Kiss Carlo” by Adriana Trigiani A story inspired by the author’s family becomes a rivetingly brilliant inter-generational saga in which to entreat inside to discover how this family found the truest joy to celebrate whilst alive!

Posted Wednesday, 31 January, 2018 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I happily have been hosting for Italy Book Tours alongside hosting for iRead Book Tours; however, it has been quite a few years since I’ve seen a novel come along for this touring company which I felt as excited about reading as ‘Kiss Carlo’! I will explain momentarily why this was the case, however, I was wicked enthused finding out I had been selected to be part of this lovely blog tour celebrating the title and the author! I received a complimentary copy of the book “Kiss Carlo” direct from the publisher HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

What initially drew my attention to read this novel:

The interesting back-story on this author, is I actually purchased two of the novels in her series focused on Big Stone Gap for my best friend. I never had the joy of giving my friend the novels (long story) nor did I read them, as that felt awkward; but I did watch the film through my local #library — it is such a wicked brilliant film, too! I encourage you to see this if you haven’t already – it has the soul of the author’s narrative voice threading throughout it’s heart. For me personally, the film was a better introduction to the author’s literary style.

When I saw this novel coming along for a blog tour, I didn’t hesitate to request a position on the tour – I *love!* multi-generational sagas which go through one family’s lineage; however, this one is ‘inter-generational’ as it’s the scope of the living relatives who are living through a generation together. Similar to how we all have immediate family whilst we’re alive – I didn’t read too much about this one, as I wanted to go into it a bit blind. I knew the girth of what the author can yield in her stories based on Big Stone Gap, but as soon as the book arrived in the Post, I did sneak glimpses of it’s pages!

I loved reading the additional bits (which I’ll discuss properly on my forthcoming review) however, what I can say now is this is quite literally inspired by the author’s family! Living histories are spoken about more regularly on my blog – of how writers are fusing their own histories into the fiction they are writing? Whether or not they go into the historic past, to centuries outside their living years or whether, like this author have kept the stories closer to the hip (so to speak) they are finding ways to impart the breadth of their own ‘story’ into the fiction their creating. I, for one, find this wicked inspiring and am so very thankful I caught sight of this blog tour because as soon as I first opened the novel, I had sense I’d become dearly attached to this family,… in a similar vein of attachment as I am to the O’ Connor’s by Julie Lessman.

-quoted from the Top Ten Tuesday Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading 2018

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Blog Book Tour | “Kiss Carlo” by Adriana Trigiani A story inspired by the author’s family becomes a rivetingly brilliant inter-generational saga in which to entreat inside to discover how this family found the truest joy to celebrate whilst alive!Kiss Carlo
by Adriana Trigiani
Source: Publisher via Italy Book Tours

From Adriana Trigiani, the beloved New York Times-bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife, comes an exhilarating epic novel of love, loyalty, and creativity—the story of an Italian-American family on the cusp of change.

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.

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Emigration & Immigration, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

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ISBN: 9781471136405

Published by Harper Books

on 15th June 2015

Pages: 560

Published by: Harper Books (@harperbooks)
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: Hardback, Audiobook (Digital & CD), P.S. Edition Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #KissCarlo or #AdrianaTrigiani

About Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani

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.

Photo Credit: Tim Stephenson

my review of kiss carlo:

Recently, I was inspired by my Mum to watch Pompeii (an epic and tragic love story of a film) wherein I knew quite immediately the ‘road to Rome’ in any decade of human history would have its ill will attached to it. Also, due to the film and the previously beloved newer classic (at least to my family!) Under the Tuscan Sun helped me feel settled in the background of the story. At least in style and manner of appearance for the Italian country-side, the bounty of their lands to grow local produce and fruit whilst the sweeping vistas left me in smiles. As I observed Elisabetta helping her husband Carlo pack for his trip aboard, you could denote a few things about the couple: she did things unexpected for him and he tried not to share how worried he was about the future; not just for them but the entire village in which they lived. The war had left wounds which were still evident in the area – from the lack of provisions and the feelings of being ‘cut off’ from the mainland of Italy due to communication and roadways suffering under the wrath of war.

What implores your heart to feel attached to Carlo’s village are the words and whimsically poignant phrases Ms Trigiani has used to elicit a visceral feel to her story. They were analogies of what could be observed cross-referenced against memories of the past; of what could have been seen prior to war and the ravages of its aftermath. For this was one village of many who no longer felt they had their own identity or sense of worth; for they were one of the forgotten ones, brushed aside in favour of the larger cities. It wasn’t the right way round but it was how reconstruction oft would overlook the needs of the people; this is especially still true in modern times, even after a collateral natural disaster.

Concurrent to Carlo finding courage to come to America in the wanton hope of finding a way to save his countrymen and his wife from worsening poverty, two Italian brothers who emigrated to America after their Mum had died were now at war on the streets of Philadelphia (not a surprise, I am familiar with such feuds and the incensed anger which fuells them). These two, Dom and Mike were birds of the same feather – capitalists who wished to prove to one another who was the best brother and smartest businessman of their family. Sadly, what they endured amongst each other was nothing compared to what the immediate relations had to endure because of their stubborn nature to remember rather than to forget the pettiness between them!

I warmed to Dominic III’s wife Elsa as soon as I saw she was giving unsolicited advice about flowers for a wedding; she didn’t disregard the request when she found out the religion of the asker either – instead she gave her warm congratulations and wished them fond farewells. This is how it should be but too oft is not. Everyone has something to share at any point in time where someone else might need our advice; but how many give it? Freely without expectation? Her joy of finding out someone from a Jewish family was seeking flowers for a wedding would take awhile to be revealled as it spoke to a hidden secret from this loving Italian family.

I had a rueful smile whilst reading Nicky’s point-of-view about his Aunt Jo’s frugal horse sense about how to keep a family well fed in the Winter months! Mostly, as I grew up with a lot of the foods of the Mediterranean and one thing which was never in short supply was tomato sauce! Alongside the frequency of spices and herbs such as Basil, Paprika, Oregano and copious cloves of garlic at the ready as well! I can still swoon if I make homemade roasted garlic – where I never quite get to the point where I haven’t eaten half of what I make prior to saving them for future dishes! I love eating the cloves straight out of the head as they come out of the oven! (or slow cooker, depending on which technique I employ to roast!) One thing my Mum wished we had mastered years ago were raised beds and the ability to grow a staple of our own fruits and veg; with a wickedly large spice garden, too! We still have plans of having this in the future – including sorting out how to make homemade preserves and can the vegetables through different processes including having our own shelves of tomatoes which no longer would be needed to buy in hearty batches at the grocer! Mind you, I’m just as excited over the prospects of what I can do with pickling juices!

As I was listening in on Nicky’s observations about what his Aunt could yield from her organised planting season exploits, I must confess, I was more than slightly jealous! Especially how she kept the tomatoes closer to the sun (via the roof) and knew exactly when each of her lovelies were ready to be harvested. Even the basement kitchen implored me – as I thought it would be grand to have a separate kitchen just to can, prep and prepare your own stock of cupboard staples! Not to mention it would make cleaning everything so much easier! Ever try to make a large batch of boiled down greens with root veg and garlic? The amount of collards, kale, mustards and swiss chard needed is quite the work-out for a small sink and workspace! Tomatoes though! From heirloom to beefsteak to romas and cherry, what is not to love pray tell? I even love a wicked good panzenella salad! Fresh funnel and turnips straight from my own garden would leave me idly in blissitude, that’s for sure!

I positively love Hortense! She is written wickedly honest – giving Nicky a run for his money in regards to life lessons, cautionary advice and it’s the manner in which she delivers her sound advice which makes you feel endeared to her most! She’s not the kind to gloss over major life choices nor find a way to fill your ears with cotton candy just to soften the punch to your heart. No, she’d rather be as frank and openly honest with you at the onset if only to prevent you from future anguish you never saw coming down the pike! Hortense is quite the lady – she’s the dispatcher for Nicky’s Uncle’s cab company (Dom) and the way in which she mothers Nicky shows how much she is keen on his presence in her life. I even liked how she’s an ace at being a telegraph operator – with a keen ear and a gift for transcribing the messages.

Calla had pure spunk and you love her for it! She’s an ingenue amongst her sisters – (having been reading the Seven Sisters series this week, learning about another sister who stands out from her siblings was a lovely surprise!) as her attention isn’t on her own femininity nor on her absent marriage but rather on her art – she was passionately addicted to theatre! She cut her own hair to be styled like the French she saw in zines and she had a fierce independence about her which was refreshing as much as it felt real.

The happiness you saw on Elsa’s face whilst she was purchasing the flowers for the school girls who were excited about the May Day festivities dimmed slightly when she remembered how it smarted to remember how much she missed her own mother. Her pallor of pensiveness was misunderstood for the grief of how short-lived such preparations for an event like this can feel afterwards but for her, the emotional anguish was stronger than the remorse for the flower crowns she had lovingly made for the girls’.

It was interesting really, Calla overlooked the joy the theatre gave to Nicky and he never took a second glance at Calla. Until of course, both of them ended up in the same scene at the last minute when the actors originally cast in the play had to suddenly leave without notice. Each of them uncertain about how they would pull this off, it turnt out they had better chemistry than they could have foreseen possible! Except of course, how by acting together it altered how they viewed the people they were dating – for Nicky, he already had doubts concerning his choices with Peachy since his conversation with Hortense and for Calla, I’m unsure if she had questioned being with her boyfriend; she wasn’t the type to look that far ahead of herself. Noting how unhappy Nicky’s girlfriend Peachy was about his participation at the theatre spoke volumes; she was an up-and-comer, she didn’t want to waste her time living with a man who liked ordinary things or had creative outlets she didn’t understand. In some ways, Calla and Nicky appeared to be with the wrong partners.

As Nicky tries to understand why he feels altered by the theatre, he’s also trying to sort out why he no  longer feels as motivated as he did to marry Peachy. She’s not the kind of partner who would encourage him to pursue the theatre because it is outside of her interests. Yet, part of what drives him to return to the theatre is the happiness he feels bubbling up inside him. He likes everything about the theatre and the vibe he feels whilst he’s there. It is almost as if he is most alive inside the theatre and the stage where he’s pretending to be someone he isn’t is the outside world.

Peachy for all her faults is definitely a girl who is blinded by having all the wrong attachments in life; she’d rather have the best of everything just for the off-chance someone who visited with her in the future would know she had taste. She liked the finer things in life just as much as Dom’s brother Mike who was the flashiest and glam addicted bloke of all of South Philly! Those two should walk a mile in each others’ shoes because they’d get each other far easier than Peachy will ever understand Nicky. To her mind, Nicky is too common, not focusing on the right ways in which to advance through society and her whole focus is on tomorrow rather than today. The sad bit is that she doesn’t see what she is missing by making Nicky feel like his interests are not worthy of attention.

By the time Hortense met Minna I was overjoyed by how her character had so much to share with all of us! Especially about taking a leap of faith, savouring the moment and of keeping open to meeting new friends whilst bracing yourself for the unexpected. Hortense and Minna are a true reflection of how friendship has no boundaries, where two women can come together sharing their joy of food and cooking without making it complicated. These two women understood far more about how to live than their neighbours – in some ways, Minna understood why Hortense felt uncomfortable in most circumstances because she revealled she’s living in a city of Italians where if your not from their same town in Italy, you’re an outsider! Imagine?!

Although, technically I can understand this from a different line of thought – as I overheard someone speaking a language from a country of my own ancestral lineage – I was bold and asked if they were from that country except to say they said I would never be taken seriously as I was a descendant only and not ‘of the country’ itself. I was so shocked by how close-minded they were and how they hadn’t even let me explain that it was my grandfather who had parents who had moved to this country – thereby, the distance between their country and mine was quite short! I was always keenly interested in my roots – both my immediate family and the ancestors who came before us; blessedly, I am thankful thus far as I’ve investigated my origins alongside Mum, we have found like-minded spirits in our family who celebrate the connections rather than dismiss them!

If you love cooking, your going to love the passages about food in this novel! Being that my family consumed a lot of hearty Italian foods (as it was one of our favourite ways to cook), I recognised a lot of the dishes which I too, have loved eating! Others were new to me or ones I hadn’t had the pleasure of sampling myself to cook – all of them though, held within their palette savoury delights which you could almost taste through the pages!

The joy of reading Kiss Carlo is being caught up in this Italian saga – of seeing how everyone interrelates to one another and how they all have a strong opinion to share! You can find yourself lost in the text, as secrets become known, humble truths start to surface and the ache for adventure propels Nicky into a role he was truly made to embrace! Whilst at the same time, the friendship between Hortense and Minna truly has a life-altering affect on Hortense, who finally after a life-time on not realising she was not living her potential found her truer gift was to share something of herself (and Minna) with the world. I loved how their friendship was working within the threads of Nicky’s life – of how he too, realised his gift was being an actor as the love of theatre had sparked such a deep passion for the stage he had to pursue it professionally.

Throughout the hours I was consuming this novel, I was especially grateful for how Ms Trigiani had written it – she moved you so readily in and out of each of the characters’ thoughts and emotions, you truly felt as if you personally had known these lovelies for years rather than mere hours! The large Italian family was truly one of the more touching representations of Italians I have come across (either by novel or film) as it spoke to how despite the hurdles they face or the quirky moments which arise in life, family is family. You feel as if in the short expanse of reading the novel you’ve lived a fuller life somehow by spending it alongside Nicky, Calla, Hortense, Minna and the rest of the family whose given you a reason to champion their causes and feel the heartache of what upsets them.

There were even moving passages of secondary or minor characters who had such a strong presence of their own – of how even their lives held something to give to us – enlarging our understanding of the human spirit to find love and seek out happiness even if by appearances, it might seem too late for someone to grab a hold of it. I even appreciated the time setting this novel was set against – the late 1940s and early 1950s – when Nicky is moving from theatre to television, for some reason everything I had learnt about television during this period or shortly outside of it, brought back fond memories of the I Love Lucy show and the methods of Mr Arnaz employed to preserve the series; as much as I loved learning about his take on television from his era.

Even the focus on how theatre is a moving testament of how we interconnect to each other through the experience of live theatre was included. I loved how the theatre was a hearty backdrop to life, of how it renewed our soul but it also was a bit of a harbinger of real events affecting the heart – having this theatre focus on Shakespeare felt quite fitting as the whole time I was caught up inside Kiss Carlo it felt like a play Shakespeare would have enjoyed himself: partially tragic, wondrously affirmative of the core of why families are our rock in life and transformatively engrossing through the inter-connectons of one Italian family who lived an honest life and loved as passionately as they lived.

This is definitely one of my #unputdownable reads for 2018 due to how wicked wonderful it was to step through this novel and alight alongside Ms Trigiani’s characters – she doesn’t disappoint the reader either – there are lovely additional chapters to tie together loose ends or to give you an impression of what ‘came next’ even after the curtain was drawn. In this way, she re-focuses on the larger messages within the text and shares more insight into how and why the biggest growth the characters have undertaken can then be re-directed back into their personal lives whilst giving the reader a feeling of warmth knowing this journey was both introspective and heart-warming all at the same time.

A note on Equality in Lit:

Hortense is an African-American telegraph operator who knows she is fortunate to work for her Italian boss even if she doesn’t always feel she is welcome around the Italians or the Catholics for that matter. She is seen as an independent woman who takes opportunity as it arrives and makes something with her life no one expected.

The loving layers of Italian culture, food and family traditions – those gestures which signal your reading a story rooted in everything Italian is happily observed in how Ms Trigiani approached the backbone of her novel. There is the nuance and the broader strokes of Italian heritage bursting out of this novel where you get a better sense for what it was like for Italian’s in the earlier years of the 20th Century; as it wasn’t as easy for them to find jobs and be in communities which discredited their worth or tried to keep them from moving upwards in their lives.

on the writing styling of Adriana Trigiani:

Having only had the pleasure of watching Big Stone Gap, I wasn’t sure what I would find inside a novel by Ms Trigiani as she is quite the wordsmith! She has written a bevy of collective works, each of them fine tuned to the characters’ she wants to focus on and thereby, I knew if nothing else, I was in for a delightful treat about how she curated the back-histories of her current characters! As soon as you duck inside this novel, your mind is happily illuminated in the past – of where Carlo and Elisabetta are hinging all their hopes on a singular leap of faith which might not even prove to be worthy of their time. Countering rather seamlessly to this is America herself – of the trials Italian immigrants were already facing and the toils of a larger family who did not always shine the best light on how to ‘get along’ with each other.

I loved how the story was written to be enlarging in it’s scope with each character you crossed paths with to meet – akin truly, to why I loved watching Big Stone Gap! Ms Trigiani definitely has caught my attention now with her passion for the craft of telling a story which first fuses to your heart and then, takes you on this journey you were not expecting to discover! I love how she pulls you forward whilst giving you questions about the origins of part of the story’s past; you weave in and out of the lives of the characters you feel familiar with now. As their lives grow more complicated, so too, does your concern for them grow dimensionally. Even the characters who are on the side-lines, part of the supporting cast give you a pause as each person in the story has a role to play and a purpose to be included. It’s one of those large casts you love to follow step with and see what will be revealled within each of the chapters!

In regards to the PS Edition:

The end papers are jagged on this beaut of a novel – an element of surprise I cherished finding when my copy was first received! I love this ‘touch’ to novels, you see! The satin cover art and the dclever manner of how the ‘flaps’ of the cover (front and back) were the old school kind which you can endeavour to ‘unfold’ outside the novel was quite smashing, too. However, it was how the cover art was designed which interested me most – of how different elements of fashion, flowers and background motif were united in one signature design which strikes an elegant recognition for the title: Kiss Carlo. Even if of course, after you read the very first passages involving Carlo you understand the affectionate expression was made by his villagers who wanted him to kiss them upon his departure; if only for luck and the hope of what his journey could bring them all.

I loved everything disclosed and included in the ending pages of this novel because this is one of my favourite reasons for feeling a P.S. Edition is such a hearty gift to readers: it takes you past the novel and allows you to know more about the writer who penned the story you now find #unputdownable!

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Reader Interactive Question:

I look forward to hearing your reactions if you’ve read this novel too

and/or if your curiosity had become piqued to read it after reading my own ruminations!

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 31 January, 2018 by jorielov in 20th Century, African-American Literature, Aftermath of World War II, Ancestry & Genealogy, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Brothers and Sisters, Catholicism, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cookery, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Foodie Fiction, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, History, Immigrant Stories, Inheritance & Identity, Intergenerational Saga, Italy, Italy Book Tours, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, New York City, Philadelphia, Siblings, Singletons & Commitment, Sisterhood friendships, Story knitted out of Ancestral Data, the Forties, The World Wars, Vignettes of Real Life, Village Life, Vulgarity in Literature, William Shakespeare, Women's Fiction

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