Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Saint of Lost Things” as Want to Read:
The Saint of Lost Things
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Saint of Lost Things

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  682 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Even after seven years in Wilmington, Delaware, Maddalena Grasso is still filled with longing. She misses her mother and the familiar landscape of Italy. As she sews diligently at the factory to meet her daily quota, she dreams of finally finding herself with child, after trying for so long. And she yearns for the company of her husband Antonio, whose pursuit of the Americ ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Berkley Trade (first published 2005)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Saint of Lost Things, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  682 ratings  ·  79 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Saint of Lost Things
Edited May 4, 2019 —
I learned after listening to this delightful author speak this is the second book in a three part story. Now, it makes sense why I felt like I needed more backstory, because there is a first book with all the backstory!!

The concept of this novel struck me -- Italian immigrants in the 1950s, if the action was moved to greater New Haven, CT, rather than Wilmington, DE, I imagine it could have been my own family, but the similarities ended there!

The plight of the immigrant and
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Another "quiet" book that captivated me. Beautifully renders the paradox of the immigrant's life: hope for the new world, grief for all that's left behind.

Elegant writing. The author switches deftly from one character's point of view to another. I admit I'm partial to the subject matter, as I love immigrant tales, but the descriptions of the daily grind and family life of the Grassos, trying to claw their way into the American Dream, made me feel like I was there with them. Felt particularly pa
From November 2005 School Library Journal:
It is 1953 and Maddalena Grasso is newly arrived in the United States, trying to make sense of the unfamiliar language, strange customs, and her place in her new extended family. Her husband, Antonio, is a perpetually dissatisfied man who yearns after the American Dream: shiny new car, new home, and children. Having convinced the beautiful Maddalena to marry him and leave her family behind, he now watches over her jealously and becomes ever more frustrat
Liz Barton
I enjoyed this book quite a bit--my biggest issue with it was that I wanted to know more. Everything seems to wrap up rather quickly at the end, and I wanted to know more about several of the "holes" that were skipped over--What happened after Madalena woke up in the hospital? How did Cassie and Renato react when they learned their restaurant had been vandalized? How did Julian and Helen's relationship develop?
Overall, it was a good read with a lot of interesting characters.
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
It sure had characters, and a plot.
Ms. Wayne
From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–It is 1953, and Maddalena Grasso, newly arrived in the United States from Italy, is trying to make sense of the language, the customs, and her place in her new, extended family. Her perpetually dissatisfied husband, Antonio, yearns for the American Dream: shiny new car, new home, and children. Having convinced the beautiful Maddalena to marry him and leave her family behind, he now watches over her jealously. He feels a mixture of contempt and envy fo
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story begun in A Kiss from Maddalena continues seven years later with Maddalena and Antonio, the husband she has very reluctantly married and emigrated to the US with, have settled into his family's house in Delaware. The small town atmosphere of a "little Italy" in Wilmington is not entirely unlike the small town they both grew up in in Italy, and yet it is worlds away and Maddalena has not stopped longing for home, for family, and even for her first love who is now married to her older, es ...more
Elisha (lishie)
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
This novel is a sequel to Castellani's A Kiss From Maddelena. At first I was sad because this book picks up years later and in America, not Italy. But the sadness I felt worked for the book as Maddelena misses her home country of Italy and her family. The book is about cultures and relationships, immigrants in 1950s Delaware. It truly feels real- what Maddelena is experiencing, her marriage, her feelings...And I can relate to her- she is alone in America with her husband's entire Italian (now tu ...more
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is about an Italian immigrant family. Told within that cultural context it is a wonderful insight into how these immigrants struggled to make it in the New World while also wanting to become a part of the US.

They are proud of their culture and language, but at the same time they all learn English and the American way of life. They work very hard at becoming Americans and obtaining the status that that brings. I borrowed this one from the library, but I might buy a copy and add it to m
Jeanne Mulcahy
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Some of these people were so familiar to me. Only they were recent Italian immigrants in Virginia, not Delaware, but with the same hopes and fears.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book (apparently the second in a trilogy involving these characters) about an Italian immigrant family in Wilmington, Delaware. Antonio Grasso brought the beautiful Maddalena from a small town in Italy to marry him and make a life in America. Maddalena misses her first love Vito, her mother and her small village, and she has to figure out how she will fall in love with Antonio, and how she will assimilate into American life. Antonio has dreams of breaking free of the Ford Auto fac ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have life experience with the area in which the novel is set and of the period it speaks. That's what attracted me to discovering the book set in Wilmington, DE. Description of people and places resonated with my memories. The main characters are members of an immigrant family. [immigrant stories should be necessary reading for everyone alive today] Writing is good. Narrative nicely connected to theme named by the title. Appreciated dialogue. The story includes realistic racial tension from th ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I feel like this book was over-hyped but I still really enjoyed it. If you love characters more than you love plots, you'll like this one. A fairly quick read that takes you right to the center of an Italian immigrant community and family in the Wilmington, DE area, 1940s-ish.

I selected this book as my Delaware read, a component of my project to read a couple great books from/about each state. There's not a lot that actually *happens* in the novel, but -the rumors are true- Castellani does an in
Tamara Merrill
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
There was a posting on FaceBook about the best book fro each state and of the 50 states listed this book was the only one I hadn't read. So...I immediately ordered it. In the beginning I loved the story but by the middle it was dragging along. I kept slogging my way through and when I got to the last quarter of the book I was enjoying it again. The characters are well written, human, but often boring - probably too real for me. Sometimes the writing is beautiful, almost lyical. Through out the e ...more
Barbara Scott
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is the story of an Italian village girl who immigrates to the USA with a new Italian American husband. There are a couple of threads within the novel which are clumsily handled but I finished it despite feeling it was not among the best written immigrant novels. Maddalena goes from lost unhappiness to a sense of contentment in her new land but this reader did not feel satisfied mainly because the writing was mostly pedestrian and the plotting weak. I suppose I finished it because I rather l ...more
Donna Krebs
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Josephine Femia
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I found this book interesting as I am married to an Italian and know the customs. We speak Italian so I knew what all the expresses were. The only thing is I wish we knew exactly what happened to Abraham.
Maria Oropallo
As the child of immigrants and born in the mid 1950's this story resonated with me on many levels. The individual stories in the novel ring true to the culture of Italians settling and dreaming in America.
Jeanna Friedley
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I didn’t love this one, I couldn’t get into it. I found parts of it forced. While I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the read, I did find parts of it interesting. It’s intentional incompleteness was realistic I guess, if not fulfilling in a novel.
Dana Brown
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
A pleasant story about Italian immigrants. It's the second in a trilogy.
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several characters to love, but one main character is a thief and a thug. The author, however, writes about them all lovingly, without the judgment reserved for those outside the family.
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Not what I expected...
[16] For Delaware I chose #TheSaintOfLostThings, The story of Italian immigrants to Wilmington in the 1950s, partially due to my own family history (though my Italian grandparents immigrated to Brooklyn about 20 years earlier). An unflinching portrait of one family and their struggle to make it in a new country. Not exactly a pretty picture of race relations or gender dynamics at the time - but I think probably also very accurate. By today’s standards, I kept shouting, “Maddalena, run! Leave thi ...more
In Wilmington, Delaware, a tightly knit group of family, friends, and neighbors, all Italian immigrants, live and work not far from St. Anthony’s Church, St. Anthony being the patron saint of lost things. Continuing the story of Maddalena, now seven years into her arranged marriage to Antonio Grasso, and introducing us to new characters, Christopher Castellani again weaves a rich story honoring, not romanticizing, the Italian immigration experience in the second half of the twentieth century in ...more
Catherine Elcik
In a cultural moment where page turners get all the oxygen, this book is a quiet friend full of wisdom, heart, and language as comforting as a lullaby:

"Open and close your mouth, like a fish, like Sister Clark teaching you English, like an old woman who's lost her mind and sits alone, no longer responsive to light and touch; the sound you'll make, instinctively, the most natural sound in the world is ma. Mamma. Mamma. Under god there are no accidents. He gives us answers as clear as letters on
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Much better than his first one, "A Kiss for Maddalena", which was pretty slow. His art of painting pictures with words was a treat.
Wisdom Kunitz
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 9-16
Oh my goodness, I thought this book was so good. I only recommend it to those who have the patience to to read about a character's life. I know nit can get boring when they literally describe their day but they go back and forth between characters and I think it was a beautiful and interesting book about life in the view of an immigrant in America.
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set in 1953 in a tight- Italian neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware, Saint of Lost Things is the story of Maddalena Piccinelli Grasso, who was introduced in A Kiss From Maddelena. Seven years after the end of the first book, we find Maddelena, now married to Anthony and recovering from a miscarriage which almost cost her life. She's moved into a resignation about her life and her future. It seems that although she loves Anthony she desperately misses the Italian homeland she left against her wi ...more
Aug 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, italy
This is the second of a trilogy about the Grasso family. The first book ends with Maddolina leaving behind Italy, her family, and her first love as she bows to the wishes of her parents and family to marry Antonio Grasso who returns to Italy from America to pick his bride. This novel is set 7 years later in the city of Wilmington as she adjusts to marriage in a strange land in the early 1950's, Wilmington's little Italy, all 8 blocks is still bigger than the three streets of her small village. I ...more
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved It! 1953, Wilmington, DE. To read about familiar places, streets and family names in the city where I live was really cool. The story and characters were very believable. Especially if you are familiar with the Italian community here.
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Saint of Lost Things 1 9 May 15, 2010 04:02AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Summer People
  • In a Field of Blue
  • Caro Michele
  • O Taste and See
  • Relearning the Alphabet
  • What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump
  • The Sobbing School
  • The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing
  • Seam
  • A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World: Poems
  • Angle of Yaw
  • Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002
  • The Hatred of Poetry
  • The Grey Album: Music, Shadows, Lies
  • The Lichtenberg Figures
  • Purgatory
  • George Washington Gomez: A Mexicotexan Novel
  • Cannibal
See similar books…
Christopher Castellani is the son of Italian immigrants and a native of Wilmington, Delaware. He lives in Boston, where he is the artistic director of Grub Street, one of the country's leading independent creative writing centers. He is the author of three novels: All This Talk of Love (2013) -- a New York Times Editors' Choice -- A Kiss from Maddalena (2003)--winner of the Massachusetts Book Awar ...more

Related Articles

In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
35 likes · 23 comments
“She wishes them not luck or money; they will have both, as much as they want, or is necessary. Instead she wishes them fearlessness in all things: in love, yes, but also in work, in expectation, in the leap from the high rocks, in looking back, and in forgetting.” 0 likes
“But to forget completely is an insult. A dishonor to the people who loved you—” 0 likes
More quotes…