Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Kiss from Maddalena” as Want to Read:
A Kiss from Maddalena
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Kiss from Maddalena

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  817 ratings  ·  114 reviews
Some in Santa Cecilia think that a rich, beautiful girl like Maddalena Piccinelli wouldn't look at Vito Leone if he were the last boy on earth. But it is 1943, and Vito is nearly the last boy in the village-and in a few months, after he turns eighteen, the soldiers may come for him too. For now, he is determined to win her. And he is beginning to get past her self-containe ...more
paperback, 352 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Berkley Trade (first published January 1st 2003)
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 A Kiss from Maddalena, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Kiss from Maddalena

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  817 ratings  ·  114 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Kiss from Maddalena
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I’m very iffy about Romances and I swear it has nothing to do with my apparent lack of experience in the love department. Sure, I sit down for the occasional chick-lit from time to time, but I usually avoid hardcore love stories because most of the time they end up pretty much generic; it’s either too draggy and full of fluff that I get bored waiting for my tears to come out or it’s too plain melodramatic that I get bored to tears. I blame it on my having read Nicholas Sparks at age 9.

I am there
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
My entire Italian-American family has read this trilogy and we are head-nodding in agreement for our admiration. Castellani captures the Italian-American experience like few others.

But what makes A Kiss for Maddalena, The Saint of Lost Things, and All This Talk of Love remarkable is the realistic evolution of the characters. Maddalena the plucky country girl of book one becomes the provincial, ignorant and somewhat bigoted American housewife in book two. Her husband, Antonio the interloper, eve
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(Edit after reading entire series: I'm adding back the star I deducted for being forced to part ways with the compelling and beautifully rendered young Vito Leone. I admit to a pang of reader rage at the end of the first book of the three, because it was clear that we would leave behind my favorite character. BUT the three-part series works so well with Maddalena at its center, and renders the Italian immigrant experience so poignantly and accurately, that I had to concede that I trust the autho ...more
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Downloading this on a kindle for a recent plane trip I was amazed to discover a real gem.

This story is set in Italy during and after WWII, mainly about the coming of age/love affair between teenagers Vito and Maddalena. It is reminiscent of the Romeo&Juliette saga. With a first-hand look of the war and how it affected Italy in its aftermath, we see families trying to live through and pick up the pieces (literally) of their war-torn lives.

The town of Santa Cecilia has many traditions and close f
Hannah Jane
Jan 15, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Depressing, bizarre and disorganized. Oddly enough I was mildly impressed with his descriptions of the scenery. Kind of reminded me of Cormac McCarthy because I never really became enchanted with the story. Only with the imagery and descriptions.
Born after the end of World War II, my earliest memories are happy ones of family connections, a great sigh of relief followed by a time of great hope. My mother and aunts no longer had the responsibilities of juggling work shifts and child care. My father and uncles returned safely from their Europe and Pacific assignments.

In this first book of three about Maddalena Piccinelli and her family, Christopher Castellani captures a big story about a group of characters in the small town of Santa Ceci
Elaine Dimopoulos
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Chris Castellani is right up there with the M.T. Andersons of the world, the writers who make the rest of us want to give up because we can never approach them in talent. To make matters worse, I met Chris at a PEN New England event, and he's an instantly likeable, charismatic, down-to-earth guy. Some people get all the breaks.

The beating heart of A KISS FROM MADDALENA is Vito, Vito, Vito. I love Maddalena, love her sweetness, her composure, her sense of duty occasionally corrupted by passion. A
Patrick Barry
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set in World War II Italy, this romance sees.young Vito on the cusp of the age where he can be drafted. His village has already lost many young men to the war. War has impoverished the village although its support for Mussolini remains fairly strong. Vito seeks the affections of Maddalena, but her parents see the pretty girl married to someone far above Vito's station. Maddalena is intrigued by his desire. In short order, Italy collapses and retires from the war. Angry Germans rush in to fill th ...more
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another random choice from my groaning bookshelves - warm weather, italian romance I thought, but this isn't your classic love story. Set during the German retreat from the Allies, this is rural Italy in poverty and fear and that backdrop dominates - together with the idea of emigration to the US as an escape to paradise. Vito is a wonderful character - building a bike from its bits and selling rides for a kiss, he goes home each night to care for his mentally ill mother, and there are ...more
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
A deeply felt story, A Kiss from Maddelena is not your ordinary romance novel.

Christopher Castellani writes with the power and emotion of a more seasoned writer, proving that he belongs in the world of words.

Vito is immediately lovable, Maddelena is strong willed and sweet at the same time. The family members surrounding them are complements and opposites.

The deep convictions of love are bound to prevail from the start. But, twists and turns change it's course, leaving the reader astonished. T
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a delightful slice of heaven this book was! I loved every word, and savored this book like a delicious Italian gelato. Romance, the Italian country side, coming of age, betrayal... This book had it all and had me in tears at the end. I'm happy to find the story continues in a second book, which I plan to start this week! I recommend it as a lazy, romantic book. Not a thriller or mystery that you can't put down, but definitely a page turner that gets you involved in its characters and where ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried. I tried to finish but this is such a boring book. I couldn't engage with any f the characters or the writing. I really can't pin down what it was about the book something seemed dormant and dull in the narrative. Wouldn't recommend.
it's sad...the ending wasn't what i was expecting at all!
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read this when it first came out. Its a trilogy and the last one was just released. Loved it - although that was a long time ago!
Eva Carrasquero
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
A sweet book and nice easy weekend read!
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how I felt about this book; I may give it closer to a 3.5 than a 3, only because the ending kept me on my toes. However, most of the book was a bit slow, and I found it sort of hard to focus, especially when the war was going on, and Vito was trying to find his place in Santa Cecilia. I would have liked to read more about the interaction between Vito and Carolina near the end of the book but, the author decided to leave that in the air, focusing solely on Antonio and Maddalena. I fe ...more
Jim Curtin
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I picked this up because I really enjoyed the author's latest work, but just couldn't like this as much as the other. This is billed as a romance, but there's no progression in the man characters' relationship until the very end of the work. I was more curious about the bits of the story mentioned in passing than in the main plot. There's more in this series, but I'm not sure if I have another in me!
I typically do not write negative reviews. that being said, I was really disappointed in this book. I am of Italian decent from Little Italy in Wilmington, DE, so I really wanted to like this story. But I found it contrived and drawn out, the characters almost comical and, all in all, I just couldn't recommend this read.
Elisa M
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread
I loved this book the first time I read it (10 years ago) and thought I'd give it a reread.
I loved it just as much the second time! I think I'll try the next book in the trilogy, although sometimes that leads to disappointment. I'm OK with the way the book ends, even after being left with more questions than answers.
Kimberly Walsh
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it
So, this is the first in a trilogy. It was pretty good but not sure that I will read the other 2. I couldn't quite fall in love with the characters. I like the story and the premise but it did drag a bit.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book! Hard for me to read at times (old eyes) but so worth it, especially for people who like to read about that time period such as myself. His next book sounds great too!
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw this on the 101 Nook books under $2.99 list on Barnes and Noble and decided to give it a try. This book reminds me of so many other stories that I love. Set during and after WWII in Italy it's a story about living up to the expectations of others with a Romeo and Juliet-ish, in love but parents are in the way, sort of romance. This is not a 'bodice ripper' type of romance so if you're looking for that, don't look here.

Vito, a bit of an outcast and referred to as a mama's boy for caring for
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people looking for a very quick, fluffy romantic read
I got this book from a friend's mom who said she absolutely loved it. It was very slow moving, so I was totally "meh" about the book until about 50 pages from the end, when basically everything turns on it's head in a pretty interesting way. At that point, I began to understand why these very slowly but intricately developed characters had been given so much thought, and the fact that I knew them all so well by that point made the end very heartwrenching, like it was happening to friends of mine ...more
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
This romantic novel begins in a remote Italian village in May 1943, while Italy is still an ally of Germany. Vito, 18 years old, scrawny and relatively poor, falls for 16-year old Maddalena, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the town's general store. The book is mainly the story of their relationship through September 1945, after Italy has switched sides and the War has impacted their village and finally ended. Family loyalty, class differences, and religious beliefs at that time and place ...more
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
The ending was sad, but not in the way I predicted, so it was kind of a refreshing take on a, what I now see, as a pretty classic love story. In a very clever way, Castellani has made the characters very sympathetic but also realistic, so you rooted for them at the end, and felt for their troubles and fates. It was also impressive how he was able to condense an entire village of characters into the end, and sort of encompass their entire lives, in a way. Unfortunately, I had somehow stumbled on ...more
Dec 04, 2008 rated it liked it
I have no idea where I got this book. It was at my house for ages, so I read it on the plane on a trip to my sister's house.

For some odd reason, this book reminded me of the movie "Life is Beautiful". And not just because it took place in Italy! :)

My heart kept breaking for Vito, while at the same time he wasn't a totally sympathetic character. Maddalena, on the other hand, I didn't feel like I knew well enough.

Loved the description of the town, the area, etc. I could actually see the town in m
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII buffs
Recommended to Shelly by: Kindle Daily Deal
Really enjoyed this. Although set in my favorite time period centering on WWII, it was new material for me. I've not ever read any perspectives about Italy's involvement in the war. The story was interesting and the writing was enjoyable but I think the strength of the book comes from the character development and insight.
I also very much liked the way the loose ends were addressed at the end of the novel. In one or two paragraphs we saw where the characters progressed to and how each of their s
Jul 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
This love story is set in Italy in WWII. I am not a fan of romance novels and this book could have taken that terrible turn, but it didn't. I felt I was actually getting a glimpse of the WWII experience through the eyes of the Italians. This story is beautifully written. I can't say too much for fear of giving anything away. I will say that my favorite character was Carolina . . . I think I am a lot like her. Maddalena . . . on the other hand . . . I wanted to grab that girl and shake her. I wil ...more
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was a wonderful read. I felt instantly connected to the characters, and the setting was beautifully described. I could almost feel the Italian sun and smell the olive groves. The relationship between Vito and Maddalena was true, but I was constantly mad at Maddalena for not following her heart. I cheered for Vito the whole way, and the end of the novel was somewhat sad and heartbreaking. Over all, it was a well-written, highly emotional novel and I loved the reading experience.
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I downloaded this book from nook books under 2.99 looking for an inexpensive read from a different author. I loved this book and found myself pleasantly surprised that it had been found on a bargain search. His second novel, with a excerpt at the end, continues the story of this Italian family, and I will be continuing the read as well. My first read of World War II based in Italy. Recommend it!
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Saint Mazie
  • Happiness, as Such
  • Seam
  • The Sobbing School
  • What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump
  • Relearning the Alphabet
  • A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World: Poems
  • The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing
  • O Taste and See
  • The Grey Album: Music, Shadows, Lies
  • Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002
  • Angle of Yaw
  • The Lichtenberg Figures
  • Purgatory
  • The Hatred of Poetry
  • Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems
  • 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

News & Interviews

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...
54 likes · 39 comments