Kiss Carlo (Hardcover)
Harper, 9780062319227, 544pp.
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
From Adriana Trigiani, the beloved New York Times-bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife, comes an exhilarating epic novel of love, loyalty, and creativity—the story of an Italian-American family on the cusp of change.
It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.
Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.
From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.
Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.
About the Author
Beloved by millions of readers around the world for her "dazzling" novels, (USA Today) Adriana Trigiani is “a master of palpable and visual detail” (Washington Post) and “a comedy writer with a heart of gold” (New York Times). She is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen books in fiction and nonfiction, published in 38 languages, making her one of the most sought after speakers in the world of books today.
Adriana is also an award-winning film director and screenwriter, playwright, and television writer and producer. Her screen adaptation of her bestselling novel Very Valentine premiered on Lifetime television in June 2019, launching their National Book Club. In 2018, she directed the feature film Then Came You, filmed on location in the Highlands of Scotland. She wrote and directed the award-winning major motion picture Big Stone Gap, based on her debut novel, filmed entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. Big Stone Gap spent 11 weeks in theatres in the fall of 2015 and was the #2 top-grossing romantic comedy of the year. She wrote and directed the documentary film, Queens of the Big Time, winner of the Audience Award at the Hamptons and Palm Springs International Film Festivals. Adriana co-founded The Origin Project, an in-school writing program which serves over 1,700 students in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. She lives in New York City with her family.
Join Adriana on Facebook and Instagram @AdrianaTrigiani or visit her website: AdrianaTrigiani.com
Praise For Kiss Carlo: A Novel…
— USA Today
Trigiani’s boisterous, maddening, devoted Italian clan will have you wishing they’d adopt you too.”
“If you are looking for a page turner this summer, pick up Adriana Trigiani’s Kiss Carlo. . . I look forward to every new book by Adriana Trigiani. She is not only delightful in person, but her books are a joy to read. That includes her latest novel Kiss Carlo, this month’s book buyer pick. . .The sweeping multigenerational story effortlessly transports readers from Italy to the streets of South Philly to New York City, while the characters explore the ties that bind, tradition, wanting more from life, Shakespeare and much more. As they examine what they want for themselves, they also celebrate love, hope and family. . . Best of all? Trigiani tells this story with her trademark wit and joie de vivre.”
— The Costco Connection
“Using motifs and themes from the Bard, Kiss Carlo is an epic novel about family, secrets, and pursuing your dreams.”
“Accompanying Nicky on his journey of self-discovery is worth the trip.”
— Richmond Times-Dispatch
“An important story that goes beyond the meaning of family to the deeper question of what it means to have a life well-lived.”
— The Mountain Times
“A world of warm, lively characters whose charming idiosyncrasies lead them to collide and ricochet along the way to love.... A delightfully sprawling comedy full of extended families.”
— Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Adriana Trigiani: “A comedy writer with a heart of gold”
— New York Times
“Delightful, energetic.... Trigiani is a seemingly effortless storyteller.”
— Boston Globe
“Seamlessly superb storytelling.... Trigiani never loses hold of the hearts of her characters of the wisdom that tragedy and redemption are also part of life.”
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“If you’re meeting her work for the first time, get ready for a lifelong love affair.”
— Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help
“Trigiani is a master of palpable and visual detail.”
— Washington Post
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. What’s significant about the particular historic time in which the story is set? What defines the United States and Philadelphia in particular?
2. How are Dom and Mike Palazzini similar or different? What causes such close brothers to place each other “on the island” for so many years? What does Mike mean by his lament that “Dom had not yet learned how to live”?
3. In what ways does the loss of his mother affect Nicky Castone throughout his life? How does his inclusion in the Palazzini family help or challenge him?
4. Do you think you could call Hortense Mooney Nicky’s “third mother”? What wisdom does she possess about the Palazzini family? About life? What particular abilities help her grow and change and become so successful?
5. What might it mean that Nicky “saw beauty in the world even when there wasn’t any”? How does this affect his decisions and behavior?
6. Honesty is the “most important virtue” for Nicky because he believes that “truth made life simple.” In what ways is this true or not? How does he reconcile this with his impersonating Carlo Guardinfante? Where else throughout the story is honesty embraced or avoided?
7. What does Sam Borelli so value about theater that he would dedicate his entire life to serving it? What is the value of a place like the Borelli Theater to a community?
8. As a father, Sam worries about his talented artist daughter. Why? To what extent might the abilities and values of an artist potentially make life more difficult?
9. Beyond simple entertainment, in what various ways can literature be valuable in one’s life? What is it about the plays of Shakespeare in particular that evoke such dedication from everyone at the Borelli Theater?
10. Working at The Borelli, Nicky realizes that “theater was the volatile, dangerous, and restless sea in the world of all art forms.” What might he mean? Why might this have been so compelling to him?
11. What various motivations does Nicky have for impersonating Carlo? What complex effects are achieved by the use of impersonation and mistaken identity in many of Shakespeare’s plays?
12. Eventually, Nicky makes the profound decision to “live a life that mattered.” What might this mean? What does it mean for him to be “the dramatist of his own life”? Why does he come to value risk over security?
13. What is it about Mamie Confalone that heals Nicky? Why, after such a profound experience, don’t they stay together?
14. How does the advent of television change and even threaten the role of the theater? What can theater provide that television cannot?
15. Hortense Mooney realizes that “destiny reveals itself when need and desire merge in the moment.” What might this mean? How does it play out with Nicky, Calla, and others in the story?
16. Why do you think that Dom and Mike finally reconcile after a rift of so many years?
17. What qualities are essential for a strong and successful family that grows and endures for generations?
18. What qualities make Nicky and Calla such a profound and inevitable match? How do they balance or complement each other? Amidst the forces of destiny and luck and hard work, what’s the value of friendship and love?