All This Talk of Love: A Novel
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It’s been fifty years since Antonio Grasso married Maddalena and brought her to America. That was the last time she saw her parents, her sisters and brothers―everything she knew and loved in the village of Santa Cecilia, Italy. Maddalena sees no need to open the door to the past and let the emotional baggage and unmended rifts of another life spill out.
But Prima was raised on the lore of the Old Country. And as she sees her parents aging, she hatches the idea to take the entire family back to Italy―hoping to reunite Maddalena with her estranged sister and let her parents see their homeland one last time. It is an idea that threatens to tear the Grasso family apart, until fate deals them some unwelcome surprises, and their trip home becomes a necessary journey.
All This Talk of Love is an incandescent novel about sacrifice and hope, loss and love, myth and memory.
that the country will have no one to carry on its traditions, now that Italian girls feel no shame living childless with their boyfriends, choosing careers in politics and banking and the law over motherhood. The article confirms for Antonio that he will die at the right time: before Italy loses its Italian altogether. He circles the headline—ARRIVEDERCI, ROMA—to show DiSilvio. Antonio’s first years as an immigrant in America, he lived alone and single and with his back turned to the Old
Tony liked having him at the Al Di Là. When the two had different schedules, Tony sulked and yawned and sat in the corner, writing in a book of guest checks he carried around in his apron so he would feel like a real waiter. One day, Antonio overheard Lucio asking one of the other busboys, “What’s the Prince always scribbling?” He was the worst gossip of all, Lucio. Still is. “Who knows,” said the busboy. “He’s a smart kid. He’s probably doing his homework.” “In the summer? In the check book?”
Wharton, of James. He loves the grimy rumble over miles of desolation, the potential secret of the mustached conductor in the black coat removing his gloves, the lonely tolling of the bells as they chug past abandoned stations. Frankie is his best self on an empty train. He can read undistracted. Recollect his emotions in tranquillity. Anywhere else, his dissertation shoots up around him thick and noisy and unchartable as a rain forest, but on an empty train he’s a conquistador, armed with a
kept reading. When Prima finally asked if he was OK, he said, “Of course I’m OK. Why wouldn’t I be OK?” and read her a poem out loud from the book. “Aren’t your exams over by now?” Prima asked, which really meant, What’s a healthy red-blooded Italian American boy doing at home reading Polish poems on prom night? His solitary existence worried her. She was, and still is, looking for any sign of trouble. But again Frankie ignored her, so she stood, kissed him on the forehead, and let him be.
couples do. One squeeze asks, Is it OK if we stay another half hour? Are you tired? Will we be OK? She squeezes it back, saying, Yes, yes, and yes, I guess we will. Music comes on, and Ryan returns from the kitchen to take a bow. Taking charge suits the kid. It’s as if he’s always been here, calling the shots. Maddalena gets up and stands beside him. She sings the words. Eventually he joins in. The others stand around them, and then Antonio joins in, too, and the customers turn to watch,