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The House of Serenades
by Lina Simoni

Published: 2012-06-04
Paperback : 320 pages
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In 1910 Genoa, an Italian port city of divided classes and ancient power struggles, the Berillis are wealthy, powerful, and respected - until the day their darkest secrets begin to surface. Once the police intervene and the gossip grapevine is set in motion, the Berillis' demise is ...
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Introduction

In 1910 Genoa, an Italian port city of divided classes and ancient power struggles, the Berillis are wealthy, powerful, and respected - until the day their darkest secrets begin to surface. Once the police intervene and the gossip grapevine is set in motion, the Berillis' demise is unavoidable. But love lives on, and there's a mandolin player in town who is not giving up on the girl of his dreams. Never underestimate the power of music.

The House of Serenades is a brilliant portrait of the Italian upper class at the turn of the twentieth century, its habits, and its ways of life. At the same time, the story denounces the abuse and repression of women (sisters, daughters, wives) that was so common in those years.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

CHAPTER 1 (pages 1,2)
MONTHS LATER, removed from the world, her frail, unnourished body ravaged by pellagra and scurvy, her mind muddled with visions of black devils and fire-spitting monsters, in rare moments of lucidity Eugenia Berilli would revisit the events that marked the end of her privi-leged life and the beginning of her and her family's fall to disgrace. Her memories would mani-fest in fragments, disconnected images and sounds, snapshots of a time gone by, flashes that struck her in the heart with the suddenness and the fury of lightning bolts. But on that mild mid-April morning of 1910 she, the taller and older sister of Giuseppe Berilli, Genoa's most promi-nent lawyer, had no reason to suspect or fear. She was henceforth surprised when she awoke in her canopy bed one full hour earlier than usual, drenched in cold sweat. As she eased her feet into padded slippers and wrapped her thin body in a dressing gown, she mulled over her early rising, attributing it to at least three factors: her advanced age, the humidity, and her anxiety over the future of the Berilli law firm, whose reputation had worsened ostensibly over the past weeks. She paced the bedroom back and forth while her discomfort grew. A vague uneasiness had taken hold of her, a throb in the pit of her belly rising all the way to her throat. Her armpits were wet, and the handkerchief she dabbed repeatedly on her forehead couldn't keep the watery beads at bay. In search of cooler quarters, she headed for the den, a small square room with no stove tucked away at the north end of the apartment. Its scarce furnishing-two Louis XV armchairs and matching end table-gave it a stern look. Eugenia found it cozy. The only other object in the room, resting limply on the end table, was a soft pink knitting bag with needles showing. Eugen-ia took it and sat on the stiff red and gold cushion of the nearest armchair. She rummaged in the bag for her eyeglasses, placing them gingerly on the bridge of her nose. A faint smile streamed across her lips as, by the soft glow of a single lamp, she began knitting a shawl. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Eugenia Berilli is a powerful character. Do you love her? Or do you hate her?

2. Matilda Pellettieri: innocent victim or incorrigible coward?

3. Caterina Berilli: is her rage towards Ivano justified?

4. Ivano Bo: does his love for Caterina justify his means?

5. Doctor Sciaccaluga: bad guy, isn’t he? In his place, would you have burnt the documents or would you have read them all?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Member Reviews

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  "The House of Serenades"by Silver's Reviews (see profile) 09/04/13

Wealthy Italian families, lost love, definite class separation, and family secrets are what you will find in the THE HOUSE OF SERENADES. Many of the characters had secrets, but Giuseppe Be... (read more)

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