Margitte's Reviews > The House at the Edge of Night

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2016-releases, 2017-read, british-author, family-sagas, favorites, fiction, historical-fiction, italy, reviewed

From the blurb:
A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting Mediterranean island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry works of Isabel Allende.
Louis de Bernières (Captain Corelli's Mandolin), Elena Ferrante (The Neapolitan Novels - series), Isabelle Allende (Eva Luna, The House of the Spirits): they all have some things in common - atmosphere, magic realism, and authentic tales.

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner fits into this group of excellent tales about history, families and legacies. I am an enormous fan of all these authors and loved Catherine Banner's book. It is fine addition to this outstanding group of stories and authors.

The book starts out with the tale that would set the tone, intention, and theme of the story:
Once the whole of the island of Castellamare was plagued by a curse of weeping. It came from the caves by the sea, and because the islanders had built their houses from that rock, which had been the liquid fire of the volcano itself, very soon the weeping rang in all the walls of the buildings, it resounded along the streets, and even the arched entrance of the town wailed at night like an abandoned bride.
Doctor Amedeo Esposito left Italy in 1914 to become the first doctor on this island and for the next four generations they would live the tale of the people entrenched in its pathos, history, folklore, politics, and mysteries. Amedeo used his red book to write all the tales down but did not have enough time in his often tempestuous life to record them all. His daughter, Maria-Grazia was one of the inhabitants who listened to his stories with which he made friends, win confidence, and healed the sick. Yet, at his death, some of their own generation's stories were not recorded.

Maria-Grazia: "Someone should have written down all the other stories,” she said. For after her father, Armedeo, who had remembered to do it? What about Agata-the-fisherwoman’s rescue from the ocean? What about Robert’s own appearance? The day of the ships, when she and her father had witnessed them arrayed on the horizon like raindrops on a wire? The ghost of Pierino? The taming of Enzo; the building of the great hotel; the miracle of the bundles of money appearing after dark at the islanders’ doors? What about all the tales that had gone unrecorded? Someone should have made remembrance of these things.

The most important mystery of the island was the House Of Death in the caves down at the beach, where thousands of corpses were buried at the same time, and nobody knew how, or why, it happened. Archaeologists excavated, the site became world famous, tourists flogged in to see, yet, the mystery, an enigma to everyone, remained.

Amedeo Esposito, traveling on the fisherman's boat, with the prophetic name God Have Mercy, from Naples, arrived on the island in a hail of flowers during the annual festival of Sant'Agata. It was the first encounter with the islanders and Sant'Agata and would also after four generations, finally conclude the saga of his life and descendants at the end of the tale. Through his observations and meticulous notes, he would also finally resolve the mystery of the House of Death.

For each festival the women of the island collected millions of flowers, and throughout the tale this gathering of flowers for the festival kept the islanders connected to their own life stories, memorial events, relationship issues, their island and each other. Starting out with WWI, going through WWII and finally the economic crunch of 2007, Sant'Agata remains the center of all heartbreak and miracles. She divided and conquered. She destroyed and healed, but without her, there would not have been an island Castellamare, or Amedeo Esposito's story to tell.

Although the Espositos were the protagonists, the two main characters in this riveting saga, were Castellamare - the island itself, and Sant'Agata.

The Esposito ('esposito' - meaning 'banned') family, from dotorre Amedeo Esposito as the patriarch and first one on the island, to his great-granddaughter Lena, taking over their legacy, changed the path of history for the islanders and their descendants.

Throughout the ages, even long before the Espositos became the owners, everything always happened in the restaurant and pub The House At The Edge Of Night. Lena would become the next owner, as well as the earthly muse of Castellamare's fate and fabels. Who else could protect the old customs, traditions, language, cooking and soul of Sant'Agata's Castellamare better?
Maria-Grazia: She understood now that Lena would go on returning to this place all her life. As Amedeo had, and Pina the schoolmistress, and Maria-Grazia herself—all of them, living and dead. Lena would return always, to walk the same goat paths her great-grandfather Amedeo had walked, with his medical bag in one hand and his head full of stories, foundling, founder, drainer of swamps, healer of sicknesses, sworn protector of this place.
This book enchanted and captured me completely. The last book I have enjoyed so much, about an island and its people, covering more or less the same historical period, and also spanning over several generations, was The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G.B. Edwards and John Fowles, which I would recommend wholeheartedly as another good read in the island genre. In fact it became one of my all-time favorite reads.

However, in the spirit of De Bernières, Ferrante and Allende, The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner, just became a confirmed favorite as well. The beautiful, picturesque prose nailed it to my Favorite's List.

RECOMMENDED!
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 14, 2017 – Shelved
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: 2016-releases
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017-read
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: british-author
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: family-sagas
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: favorites
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: fiction
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: italy
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: reviewed
January 14, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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PorshaJo Beautiful review Margitte! I'm so glad you loved this one. I can't get this one out of my head. Now I must read The Book of Ebenezer Le Page!


Suzy You've made this sound very enticing, Margitte! I have both this and Ebenezer in audio, so looks like I should move them both up on my tbr! Given that it's snowy and frigid here, I could use a virtual trip to the islands!


message 3: by Margitte (last edited Jan 14, 2017 06:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Margitte PorshaJo wrote: "Beautiful review Margitte! I'm so glad you loved this one. I can't get this one out of my head. Now I must read The Book of Ebenezer Le Page!"

Thank you Porsha. A tip: you must have a little bit of patience with Ebenezer Le Page, but in the end it will blow you away, I promise! :-)


Margitte Suzy wrote: "You've made this sound very enticing, Margitte! I have both this and Ebenezer in audio, so looks like I should move them both up on my tbr! Given that it's snowy and frigid here, I could use a virt..."

Suzyyyy, I was thinking about you when I mentioned Ebenezer, and writing this review. These two books are MUST READS for you! I'm so looking forward to your thoughts on both books.


Angela M Lovely, lovely review, Magritte! So glad you felt the same as I did .


Margitte Angela M wrote: "Lovely, lovely review, Magritte! So glad you felt the same as I did ."

Thanks, Angela. Everything in this book worked for me. There was not too much or too little of anything. The editing was brilliant, right?


PorshaJo Margitte wrote: "PorshaJo wrote: "Beautiful review Margitte! I'm so glad you loved this one. I can't get this one out of my head. Now I must read The Book of Ebenezer Le Page!"

Thank you Porsha. A tip: you must ha..."


Just ordered it from my library. Looking forward to its arrival. :-)


message 8: by Margitte (last edited Jan 14, 2017 06:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Margitte PorshaJo wrote: "Just ordered it from my library. Looking forward to its arrival..."

And I hope you will absolutely LOVE every minute, Porsha. I am so happy now, you have no idea. lolol.


Paula Kalin What an exquisite review, Margitte. Looking forward to reading this one. I do enjoy island tales.


message 10: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy Margitte wrote: "Angela M wrote: "Lovely, lovely review, Magritte! So glad you felt the same as I did ."

Thanks, Angela. Everything in this book worked for me. There was not too much or too little of anything. The..."


Ok, Margitte and Angela, you have sold me! Reading soon.


PorshaJo Margitte wrote: "PorshaJo wrote: "Just ordered it from my library. Looking forward to its arrival..."

And I hope you will absolutely LOVE every minute, Porsha. I am so happy now, you have no idea. lolol."


Ha! Glad this makes you happy. I love finding new books, new books that I would otherwise not know about or consider. So I'm quite happy now too.


Margitte Paula wrote: "What an exquisite review, Margitte. Looking forward to reading this one. I do enjoy island tales."

Lolol, Thanks Paula.


message 13: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Nice review! A splendid read indeed!


message 14: by Margitte (last edited Jan 14, 2017 07:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Margitte Thanks, Jen. The author's gentle touch of her subject, or whatever it can be called, in comparison to other authors approach, is a plus. And her economic use of information was spot on. She avoided information dumping. I loved that. There's just something different to her writing.


message 15: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I love your review Margitte. It reminded me of the things I really liked about this book.


message 16: by Carol (new)

Carol A beautiful review, Margitte. All of these wonderful high ratings from GR friends make this one enticing.


Margitte Esil wrote: "I love your review Margitte. It reminded me of the things I really liked about this book."

Thanks, Esil. I would like to remember this book for a long time. I'm recommending it to all book lovers in my life. It deserves many readers.


Margitte Carol wrote: "A beautiful review, Margitte. All of these wonderful high ratings from GR friends make this one enticing."

Thanks, Carol. The high ratings of people that I know convinced me to take it on, and it was a very good decision. I hope it will mean the same to you.


message 19: by Candi (new) - added it

Candi A wonderfully enticing review, Margitte! I planned to read this eventually and I keep reading these very positive reviews that convince me not to wait too long :)


Margitte Candi wrote: "A wonderfully enticing review, Margitte! I planned to read this eventually and I keep reading these very positive reviews that convince me not to wait too long :)"

Hopefully it will be worth your time, Candi. This book is an enriching experience.


message 21: by Connie (new) - added it

Connie G I enjoyed your great review, Margitte.


Margitte Connie wrote: "I enjoyed your great review, Margitte."

Thanks, Connie


message 23: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy I'm about half-way through this book and am loving it!! Thanks so much for the nudge to move it to the top of my list.


Margitte Suzy wrote: "I'm about half-way through this book and am loving it!! Thanks so much for the nudge to move it to the top of my list."

So happy to hear that, Suzy! I always get so many great reading recommendations from your wonderful reviews.


message 25: by Susu (new) - added it

Susu Thanks for your excellent review! I will move it to the top of my list.


message 26: by Diane (new) - added it

Diane Barnes I'm convinced by your comparisons of authors and books that I have loved. Don't know how I missed your review, but thank you, I will definitely be reading this one.


Margitte Susu wrote: "Thanks for your excellent review! I will move it to the top of my list."

Thanks, Susu. Looking forward to your thoughts on the book!


Margitte Diane wrote: "I'm convinced by your comparisons of authors and books that I have loved. Don't know how I missed your review, but thank you, I will definitely be reading this one."

This is a great read for you, Diane. I hope it won't disappoint.


message 29: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy I just came back to thoroughly read your review, Margitte! I love all the connections you made and things you highlighted about this enchanting book.


Margitte Suzy wrote: "I just came back to thoroughly read your review, Margitte! I love all the connections you made and things you highlighted about this enchanting book."

Thanks for coming back, Suzy. This was a really good book. I hope the author will be well received, her work is worth a read, for sure, right?


message 31: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy Margitte wrote: "Suzy wrote: "I just came back to thoroughly read your review, Margitte! I love all the connections you made and things you highlighted about this enchanting book."

Thanks for coming back, Suzy. Th..."


I was thinking the same . . . that I hope she writes more novels. I was shocked that she is still in her 20's.


Sonja Arlow I was blown away by this author's strong voice, and for a debut novel it was amazing. Lovely review.


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