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Adriana Trigiani explores the vibrant, complex Italian-American experience in this dazzling novel that brings to life the golden years of post-war America—a celebration of ambition, risk, love, reinvention, and one remarkable family with a secret, the Palazzinis.
It’s 1949 in south Philadelphia. Diligent, hard-working, and proud, the Palazzinis have built a solid life for themselves and their three sons. Now that World War II is over, their sons, each one a decorated veteran, have returned home to the family cab company, to rejoin their world as it was before they left.
But their future and fortunes are forever changed by a telegram, and the nephew who delivers it.
Nicky Castone has lived with the Palazzinis since he was orphaned as a boy. Doted on by his aunt, loved by his cousins and employed by his uncle, he, too, has returned, without a medal, to his room in the family’s basement and his job as a hack.
While the boys were away, their father installed a Western Union Telegraph Office in the garage at the insistence of his wife, so she might be the first to hear of any news about her sons overseas. The telegrams are sent and received by the cab dispatcher Hortense Mooney, an African-American woman who has worked for the family for twenty years. In the early hours of an ordinary morning in 1949, the office receives a telegram bearing urgent news for the small Italian-American village of Roseto, sixty miles northeast of the city. Hortense dispatches Nicky to make the long, pre-dawn drive to deliver the telegram.
When Nicky arrives in Roseto as the sun is rising, he has an epiphany—a revelation that will change the course of his life and the lives of the Palazzini family, Hortense Mooney, and the people of Roseto, including the despondent young widow Mamie Confalone, the beat cop Eddie Giaquinto, the town mayor Giorgio DeNegri, and his daughter Rosa.
A captivating, multilayered novel about the power of family secrets, the triumph of true love over grief, and the courage to risk everything for the American dream, Italian style—Kiss Carlo is Adriana Trigiani at her inimitable best.