Christopher Castellani wins! Okay, this blog isn’t meant to be a beauty contest for writers. That said, Castellani is my pick for Mr. Delaware. Castellani has written a trilogy about an Italian Immigrant family, the Grassos, which begins and ends in St. Cecelia, a small village in Italy where the novel’s main characters, Maddalena and Antonio, meet and marry.
Because I believe that his latest book takes place in Italy and I’m looking to discover what life is like in Delaware, I begin reading the trilogy in the middle with The Saint of Lost Things. In this novel, set in the fifties in Wilmington, the Grassos are just starting out, searching for their American Dream. Antonio works on an assembly line at the Ford Motor Company while Maddalena rides the bus to a factory in Philadelphia where she bends over a sewing machine all day. Any extra money they make gets sewn into a special pocket Maddalena has fashioned into the cornice of the drapes. The Grassos live with Antonio’s family in the Italian neighborhood in Wilmington, a tight-knit community, ten square blocks with the Catholic church, St. Anthony’s, at the center. The church, the houses of other families and Italian restaurants are all places where they gather on Sundays and for every important family event. For Christmas Eve festivities, the women begin preparing food a week in advance, they make twelve pounds of pasta and seven different kinds of fish, delicate sauces and sweets galore. These gatherings are filled with the kind of big emotions that come with big families – passion, jealousy and love, so much love. [Read more…] about Delaware, Part Two – Christopher Castellani