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Book Review: The House of Serenades: A Novel by Lina Simoni

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In 1910, when Genoa was an active port city, the Berillis family is enjoying being respected as a high-class family of good breeding and great wealth. When Mr. Berillis takes harsh action against his beautiful, but impetuous, daughter Caterina for falling in love with a baker who is beneath her social status, he sets of a chain of events into motion that will forever alter the family’s future.

New secrets and generations of old secrets come to light, which have a direct effect on the lives of many. Members of the family start falling apart as their imperfections are revealed. As the Berillis’ saga unfolds and the truth is known, lives are forever changed, and the once revered distinction between social classes becomes blurred.

Ivano, the baker, is determined to find out what happened to his beloved Caterina. In doing so, the police become involved and the Berillis family is rocked by other events that come to light. Caterina suffers through a great deal of loss and places most of the blame on Ivano. In trying to save her, some of his actions against her family result in her feeling betrayed.

Hoping to win her back through his music, Ivano becomes a highly-respected musician and composer. Each night he serenades her with his mandolin and his voice. Being apart from each other has made them incomplete. Caterina has to decide whether or not she can get past her feelings of betrayal so that they can heal as one.

The House of Serenades is a powerfully written novel that invokes beautiful images of Genoa during the early 1900s. As I read, I felt like the city was vividly being brought to life for me. The author also does an incredible job of creating flawed eccentric characters that tend to be led more by greed and the need to be deceitful than by true values and a desire to be whole. I liked that some of the people in the story were truly beyond redemption and evil.This greatly added to the drama.

Other characters, such as Caterina, did a great deal of evolving. This added depth to the tale because these people had to overcome their past mistakes and poor decisions. Lessons are definitely meant to be learned in The House of Serenades, especially about the damage caused by the power of revenge. I highly recommend The House of Serenades by Lina Simoni and look forward to reading more by this wonderful author.

(Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views)

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