Published July 12, 2106
The lowdown from Goodreads
A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting Mediterranean island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry works of Isabel Allende.
Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where over generations the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.
Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness, in this richly written and powerful novel.
Castallemare is an island off the coast of Sicily. The book takes its title, The House at the Edge of Night, from a bar on the island, but the real story is that of the Esposito family. It begins with an orphan doctor who arrives just before the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, & ends with the financial crisis of 2008.
There is no ground broken in this book, but there doesn’t need to be. It is simply a beautiful tale of family, community & the changing ways of our world. Each section of the book is punctuated with a folk tale from Castallemare, & the book seems to take that shape in long form, with the Esposito family becoming their own folk tale. The family started with an orphan doctor who came to their shore, had an affair with the Count’s wife, & consequently lost his physician practice. Because he had fallen in love with the island, he found a way to stay by buying the old bar, The House at the Edge of Night. Here he raises his children & grandchildren, some who fight wars, leave for other countries, & some who can’t leave their home. The cast of characters on the island, families who live & die with the Esposito’s, are the perfect background for the story.
This book transported me to another place. I felt like I could hear the waves of the ocean, smell the bougainvillea & taste the homemade limoncello. I wanted to be there, & though the book wasn’t suspenseful, I couldn’t put it down. For me, a definite must read.