The House at the Edge of Night

 The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

This story follows the lives of the Esposito family over four generations from 1914 to 2009. The setting is the tiny, fictional island of Castellamare, located somewhere off the east coast of Sicily across from the town of Syracuse.

Amedeo Esposito comes to the island to practice medicine, meets and marries his wife Pina and they take up residence in "casa al bordo del notte" - the house at the edge of night. It lies just outside the village, where the lights from the houses taper off and the darkness thickens, and it is this house that becomes the center of life on the island. First there's the story of Amedeo and Pina with their three sons and a daughter; then the next generation of the daughter, Maria-Grazia with her husband and two sons; and finally the story of one of Maria's sons and his daughter. The bar/cafe the family run on the main floor of their home is the scene of much of the village's drama and Maria becomes the keeper of many of the island's secrets.   

Castellamare is far enough away from the mainland to be untroubled by most of what goes on there. Steeped in their own ways of doing things they are not much bothered by how they are done anywhere else. But even isolated as they are, they cannot escape the effects of the two wars and the economic booms and failures that shake the rest of the world. These wider events together with the smaller and more immediate doings of the island's people, the rivalries, romances, scandals, joys and sorrows of life in a small community, tell a rich and satisfying story. The characters are relatable - some of them a little weird and perhaps the more relatable for that - and the island setting mesmerizing, the sound of the sea the background music to the entire novel.

It's a bit lengthy - 415 pages in my copy- but that allows the story to be told in depth and lets the reader really get to know the characters and the place. It's a great story, a well told, epic tale of island life.   


Post a Comment