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[personal profile] affascinante
reposted from eelinej @ LJ.

I normally skip romance novels and go straight to the thriller/mystery/fantasy ones when I visit bookstores. This one, however, caught my eye for some reason. It could be because of the red and light gold spine and cover or the intriguing title. Anyway, I picked it off the shelf and was intrigued. The setting of the story was in Italy around the time of World War II, specifically when German troops are attacking the Italian villages. Yes, I know I'm an addict. The first thing I thought of was Italy's Hetalia, how uncool is that?

This book is Castellani's debut novel. It is the story of two people, Vito and Maddalena. Vito Leone is about to turn eighteen and is nearly the last young man in the village (the rest were taken by soldiers to the battlefield). Before he leaves, he asks the young ladies for kisses, and he is most determined to receive a kiss from Maddalena Piccinelli, a beautiful girl from a rich family. Her family does not like him, her older sisters (who should be married first) snub him and thinks he's a penniless fool. Her parents cannot accept him to be Maddalena's suitor. However, Vito is decided to make the young woman fall for him and slowly, with his little actions of helping his mother and the ladies of the town, Maddalena sees the young man in a different and softer light.

However, their paths is obstructed by an American also desiring Maddalena's hand. The war around them surges on, too, destroying their homes and forcing people to leave the town. Amidst the threat of being torn apart by war, Vito must prove his worth to the woman he loves and Maddalena must choose what her heart really desires.

I'm halfway done with the book at the moment. It is a little dragging at first, the events unfold a little too slowly. But I cannot deny that the book is engaging. You can't help but read on, discover what Vito will do and how Maddalena reacts to him and vice versa. The every day occurrences in the village makes me appreciate how the people who aren't soldiers live their life in the middle of war. The emphasis on Vito and his mother as well as the families in the village was poignant and realistic.

I was ready to put the book down the moment that I see any clues of a mushy historical romance novel. But "A Kiss from Maddalena" does not disappoint me. Yes, it is a romance novel but no, it is not. I read the events of how Vito slowly tried to win Maddalena and I witness their exchanges, their movements, etc. But they aren't written in a way usual scenes in romance novels are written. The scenes are not out of place or offensive. They simply melded with the daily events of the story well. There are some things that are left inadequately described, inviting the readers to read between the lines. It's not the usual love story that makes me cringe and I love it. The kiss, as the title implies, is more than what Vito was aiming for and the story shows us how Maddalena's kiss, which she was reluctant to give, could be so meaningful.

So far, I'm loving the book. There are some boring parts, some scenes that I think should not have been included and there are also some scenes that I wish were elaborated on more. But I think this is a really passionate, touching book. It made me sad more than once, cheerful for Vito more than once and made me feel a lot of other emotions at some points. The writing is simple, not Salman Rushdie type, but I think the simple wording conveyed the simplicity of the setting as well as the complexity of the emotions of the characters well and profoundly.

If I am to rate this book depending on what I've read so far, it'd be an 8 (over 10 = highest).


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August 2009

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