Prather’s Pick: A Novel about change
I got hooked on Adriana Trigiani’s novels some years ago after reading “Big Stone Gap” and “Big Cherry Holler.” I read everything by Trigiani that I could get my hands on, and some of her novels even found their way onto my bookshelf. I also have “Cooking with my Sisters,” a recipe book that she coauthored with her sisters, a unique book that includes some of her family history.
What I like so much about Trigiani’s novels is the “familyness” (my own word for it) in her plots, all based on her wonderful Italian family background.
So, I was delighted to find “Kiss Carlo” on the shelf with new books at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries. It’s a brand new (2017) novel, published by HarperCollinsPublishers. I like the novel—a lot. The book is written in the memory of Michael A. Trigiani.
This humorous novel is set in 1949 just after World War II. In the “Overture,” it is May 1 in Roseto Valfortore, Italy where Elisabetta Guardinfonte is packing her husband’s clothes. Carlo is the ambassador of the town, and he’s off to America, specifically Pennsylvania, to try to get help in order to save Roseto.
Meanwhile, on the same day in Philadelphia, it’s life as usual for the Palazzini family—the Dom Palazzini family that is. Dom and his brother Mike have been estranged for years—in fact not speaking at all since March 1933. That goes for their wives and children, too. The argument, over a parcel of land, ended up in them splitting up the profitable Palazzini Cab Company. By the flip of a coin, Dom kept the original name, and Mike named his company the Pronto Taxi and Limousine Service.
Dom’s wife Jo, their sons and wives, and a grandchild all live together in one house. They’re a happy, noisy bunch. Also living there is Nicky Castone who, being orphaned, was raised by his Uncle Dom and Aunt Jo.His room is in the basement of the house.
Nicky drives cab No. 4 at the cab company where Dom’s sons also work. The dispatcher for the company is Hortense Mooney, a colored lady who has worked for the family for years. She is also a Western Union telegraph operator, and she types up the telegrams that the drivers deliver. As the reader is to discover, she is a key character in the novel.
Nicky is secretly moonlighting at the Shakespeare Theater Company that was started by Sam Borelli but recently turned over to his daughter Calla. Nicky does just about everything at the theater, from washing windows to being a prompter. His job is in jeopardy, however, because the theater is in financial trouble.
Teresa “Peachy” DePino and Nicky have been dating for years and have set a wedding date, and the couple is destined to live the “conventional” life of their family—or are they? One night at the theater just before a play is to begin, an actor is missing. Since Nicky knows all the lines in the play, he’s chosen to fill in. It’s the beginning of a big change for Nicky.
There’s a lot going on in this novel. Eventually Carlo Guardinfonte gets involved, too. The plot is humorous; the ending is heartwarming.
The novel costs $27.99 in hardcover. You can also find the book at the Craig Library, with new books.