The 4th of July seems like a good time to talk about Adriana Trigiani’s latest, a book about Italian immigrants living the American dream.
I always look forward to a new book from master storyteller Trigiani, and she never disappoints. Kiss Carlo is another terrific Italian family story, this time set in the late 1940’s in Philadelphia. Dom and Mike are brothers who own a cab company, but when their father dies, he leaves behind a rift between the brothers that forces them and their families apart for more than a decade. Dom opens his own cab company and adds a telegraph office as well, run by Mrs. Mooney, a “colored” woman who loves the family like her own.
Nick is an orphan who lives with his aunt and uncle Dom in a basement apartment. He works in the family business, driving cab #4, and Mrs. Mooney is like a second mother to him. He moonlights at the Borelli theater, where he does everything and anything from cleaning the floors to feeding the actors their lines.
Calla Borelli took over directing the plays from her retired father. The Borelli theater is a community theater that puts on productions of Shakespeare, but ticket sales have been steadily declining and the family is barely hanging on. Calla has to fire Nick, they can’t afford him anymore except at the last minute, he has to fill in for one of the actors, and Nick falls in love with the stage.
Nick has been engaged for seven years, since before the War, to Peachy, but as he is tempted by Calla, and in love with acting, he realizes he can’t see a future with her. In nearby Roseto, the town is expecting the Ambassador Carlo from their sister city in Italy for a Jubilee celebration. Nick is to deliver the telegram stating that the ambassador has been taken ill and won’t arrive, but instead, Nick convinces Mrs. Mooney to go with him while he poses as the Ambassador and all sorts of hijinks ensue.
All of Trigiani’s books are about “la famiglia” and no one does a better job of it; you can practically taste the macaroni and gravy as you read. If you are looking for a beautiful escape, look no further. Kiss Carlo is an intoxicating getaway, a vacation read I wouldn’t want to miss, and neither should you!
7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
KISS CARLO by Adriana Trigiani. Harper (June 20, 2017). ISBN 978-0062319227. 544p.