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On a tiny island off the coast of Italy, Amedeo Esposito thinks he has finally found a place where he can belong. The newly-trained doctor is welcomed into the small community and marries Pina, the widow of a local school teacher.
However, “by noon on the day of Pina’s baby’s birth it was rumoured across the whole island that the doctor had delivered two babies, one his wife’s and the other, his lover’s.”
The scandal grips the inhabitants of Castellamare, it threatens Amedeo’s marriage, and causes him to be sacked as the local doctor. So he throws his life into restoring the House at the Edge of Night and reopening its bar to the public, as well as rebuilding his marriage to Pina.
The family saga unfolds through the many chapters and the reader delves into the layers which hold the family together throughout the book, which spans a long period from 1914 to 2009. It is a big read, 470 pages, but the story line flows easily and one is soon absorbed into the dramas of everyday life: floods, wars, storms and earthquakes.
A paratrooper washed ashore during World War Two is accepted into the Esposito family. Television also comes to the island, but when tourists begin to arrive, the islanders are forced to re-evaluate their lifestyles to accept that this may be how they earn their living in the future.
Catherine Banner was born in Cambridge and began writing at the age of fourteen, signing her first publishing deal shortly after sitting her final GCSE. She now lives in Italy but did her research for this novel while teaching in the north of England. This is her debut adult novel, and will be enjoyed by anyone who loves a family saga. Banner has divided the book into five parts and I enjoyed the inclusion of the old Sicilian and Italian folk stories at the beginning of these sections.
Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh
The House at the Edge of Night
by Catherine Banner
Published by Hutchinson