“A perfect summer read [that] brims with heart . . . Don’t be surprised if you keep turning the pages long into the night, spellbound by its magic.”—The Denver Post
A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry of works by Isabel Allende.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • Los Angeles Public Library • Kirkus Reviews
“Captivating . . . [Catherine] Banner’s four-generation saga is set on an island near Sicily, where myths of saints get served up with limoncello at the Esposito family’s bar. . . . The island is fictional, but consider this dreamy summer read your passport.”—People
“A lusty page-turner that weaves romance, rivalry and the intricacies of family expectations into one glorious tale.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
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 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.
Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories—and this magical novel takes you there.
Praise for The House at the Edge of Night
“A gorgeous, sweeping story set over four generations . . . calls to mind Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Beautiful Ruins.”—Interview
“Like pictures of a childhood summer, or a half-forgotten smell, this book is sweet and heady with nostalgia . . . [and] comforting as a quilt.”—NPR
“Rich and immersive, this book will take you away.”—Vox
“A masterful piece of storytelling, infused with the miraculous (both in stories and in everyday life) while maintaining the difficult balance between the explainable versus the inexplicable . . . captivating and beautifully rendered.”—Sara Gruen, author of At the Water’s Edge
Banner, the author of three YA novels, makes her adult debut with a fantastic chronicle of several generations of a family living on a somewhat otherworldly Italian island. Raised by a kindly doctor who takes him from a Florence orphanage, a grown Amedeo Esposito moves to gossipy Castellamare to become the town physician in the early 20th century. He marries the smart, capable Pina Vella, but not before conducting an ill-fated affair with the mayor's wife, which results in two of Amedeo's children being born to two different women on the same night. After Amedeo loses his livelihood, he and Pina transform their storied, titular home into a successful bar, which is eventually looked after by their youngest child, Maria-Grazia, during WWII. In her role, she becomes privy to all the townspeople's secrets, conducts a courtship with wounded British soldier Robert Carr, and, much to her parents' consternation, finds herself drawn to her half-brother, Andrea. Meanwhile, her sibling Flavio, a former Fascist and her only brother to survive the war, is shunned by the community after rumors destroy his reputation. Banner extends the scope to Maria-Grazia's two disparate, warring sons, Sergio and Giuseppino, who are willed the bar by Amedeo, and Sergio's daughter, Lena, who gives up her plans of becoming a doctor to run the business. All the while, Banner constructs a town life with an engaging cast of characters. Her story has a touch of magical realism that filters down from the island's many legends, collected in a book within the book by Amedeo. Banner deftly touches on weightier themes while weaving an enchanting narrative, the events of which extend to the present.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This Story is Captivating.
Once you arrive at The House at the Edge of Night you won’t want to leave ... even after the story’s end.
Catherine Banner paints a beautiful and haunting story of four generations of an Italian family in a way that makes you feel like you are part of their world in Castellamare. You can almost smell the bougainvillea, hear the cicadas and the roar of the sea.
The author explores so many personal feelings as the characters come face to face with the dilemma of duty to family or duty to self. They become real people experiencing emotions we have all felt and wrestled with in everyday life.
This is an inspiring and thought-provoking story with the perfect dose of quirky and sassy characters.
I didn’t want it to end.