Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Kiss From Maddalena by Christopher Castellani

During World War II, a poor Italian village boy falls in love with a rich beautiful village girl

The village of Santa Cecilia must evacuate as the war comes perilously near. The only people to remain behind are bright shy Vito Leone and his insane bedridden mother. Vito is in love with Maddalena Piccinelli, the beautiful daughter of the town grocer. After the town is deserted, Vito guards the Piccinelli house, carefully repairing the damage inflicted by German soldiers. But when the Piccinellis return, will he be granted Maddalena’s hand in marriage?

After plowing through 250 pages, I had to bail on this novel. The pace was too sluggish and there didn’t seem to be any forward momentum. Everything had to be explained and nothing seems to happen and I didn’t care about any of these people. Luckily the story picked up a little after the first fifty pages but that’s only because World War II was going on in the main street of the little village. But somehow there was a disconnect between the massive upheaval caused by the war and the hopes and desire and emotional state of the characters. The war seemed like just another minor inconvenience.

The strength of the book was the careful depiction of the many characters. They are all distinguished from each other, with dark and light portions to their personalities. Unfortunately, I didn’t care about Vito and I didn’t care about Maddalena. Nobody in this village was compelling.

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