Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The House at the Edge of Night - by Catherine Banner: BookReview

Number of pages: 432
Publisher: Random House
 

It's been a while since I last read a book that captivated me from the very beginning. I was entangled in the history of the island and its inhabitants, I took notes to not forget character's names, and I was living the slow paced life of Castellamare. 

The novel reminded me a bit of those Spanish or Italian novels with their long family-tree, all the neighbours and acquaintances, everybody knowing everybody, the public opinion of the community influencing the development of a person's life. Add to this the mythical stories, the legends, and ungrounded fears of the locals, and you get a mixt of history, past, mythological, and modern that makes you long for the old past. 

The novel's plot starts a few years before the World War I and carries well into the 21st century, until 2009. The central element, as the title suggests, is the Hous at the Edge of Night, which is a bar that. It was bought by Amedeo when he came on the island and it's been in the family ever since. It has a strong attraction for the islanders, and it managed to stay in business through both Wars and through the economical crisis of 2007-2009. 

I loved to see how characters grow old and adapt to the new developments. People of Castellamare don't live a rushed life, but they are interested in being up to date with what happens in the world. The island is like a separate world, where even time flows differentyly. 

As most novel I read, this too had that thing I didn't like: it went steady for about three quarters of the book, then the pace picked up and it fel a bit rushed towards the end. This is something I sense happening with almost every novel. This reminded me of a Romanian novel which in the end stated that "time was no longer patient with people". Also, the events of the late 20th and early 21st century seem to rush time, and this novel "gets" that so well.

All in all, I really liked this novel. So far it has been one of my favorite books of the year, for sure!


I received a free e-book copy of this novel from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed here are my own.

List of Characters: (spoilers!)
Amedeo Buono Roto - village doctor, comes to Castellamare
Pina Vella - wife of Amedeo
Carmela d'Isantu - il conte's wife. she has a child with Amedeo
Il conte
Andrea d'Isantu - Carmela & Il Conte's child
Arcangelo - mayor and important public figure on Castellamare
Gesuina - midwife
Father Ignazio - priest on the island
Tullio, Flavio, Aurelio, Maria-Grazzia - Amedeo & Pina's children
Robert Carr - an Englishman saved by the islanders during the War. He married Maria-Grazzia.
Sergio and Giuseppino - Robert and Maria-Grazzia's children.
Concetta - Arcangelo's daughter, good friend of Maria-Grazzia's
Sergio marries Pamela, divorces
Lena/Maddalena - Sergio's girl

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