A Kiss from Maddalena by Christopher Castellani

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It is 1943, and Santa Cecilia has become a village of women. All the young men are away at war, except for Vito Leone, his best friend, and the shopkeeper's son. When Vito falls in love with Maddalena Picinelli, the shy and beautiful daughter of the town's most powerful family, a few obstacles appear in his path. Maddalena's sassy, iron-willed sister Carolina thinks he's a penniless fool. Her parents think his crazy mother has turned him into a mammoni, a mama's boy. But Maddalena sees another side of Vito. He's romantic. He builds a bicycle for the girls to ride. He takes care of his feeble mama, who hasn't been the same since her husband and daughters ran off to America. And Vito is determined to win Maddalena's hand even though she has three older sisters who must be married off first.

When the Italians surrender to the Allies and German soldiers invade Santa Cecilia, everyone flees but Vito and his mother. With ingenuity and boundless devotion, Vito comes up with a plan to prove that he's a suitable suitor. The Picinelli family returns home after the war to find that some miraculous changes have taken place. Now, only one man stands in Vito's way, and Maddalena is forced to choose between her family's wishes and her own heart.

In the spirit of Corelli's Mandolin and Chocolat, A KISS FROM MADDALENA is a captivating novel that celebrates the beauty of life and the passions of youth.


About Christopher Castellani

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Christopher Castellani has published two previous novels with Algonquin—A Kiss from Maddalena, which won the Massachusetts Books Award for Fiction; and The Saint of Lost Things. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, where he is the artistic director of Grub Street, the Boston-based non-profit creative writing center. Author website: www.christopher castellani.com
Published June 1, 2004 by Berkley Trade. 352 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

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She loves Vito, sort of, but “had the power to control none of it” and felt that “she played such a small part in her own life.” This is a passivity that makes Maddalena increasingly irritating, especially since it’s never been terribly clear why she’s so special except that other people keep dec...

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Publishers Weekly

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Stendhal, in his book On Love, claimed that Italy was the home of passionate love because Italians take reverie as seriously as politics. Castellani, a young Amer

Feb 10 2003 | Read Full Review of A Kiss from Maddalena

Publishers Weekly

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On the night that the Germans come through Santa Cecilia, blowing up buildings, Maddalena nearly decides to give herself to Vito, but to scare Maddalena into chastity, Carolina, Maddalena's shrewd sister, tells her of a young village woman who recently died in childbirth.

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