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Posted August 25, 2012
A most enjoyable saga, filled with conflict, unspeakable acts, and love.
I love this writer's style. She develops the plot beautifully, keeping
the reader guessing and guessing. And the characters are spectacular,
the ones we hate as well as the ones we love. The historical
reconstruction is superb. I felt like I was in Italy the whole time. The
music twist is very original. I hope Ms. Simoni will continue to write!
Posted August 25, 2012
If you are expecting a nostalgic, romantic, mellow historical novel,
think again. While a difficult love story is at the center of the
story's many conflicts, in The House of Serenades you will find a crude
depiction of the Italian society, its class clashes, and the abuse of
upper-class women. I loved it, because it's so different from other
historical novels I read and because I learned about so many aspects of
the Italian society I didn't know. Some characters are despicable,
others we root for. But all of them have a meaningful place in the plot
and contribute beautifully to this incredible, heart-wrenching saga. The
music aspects in it are glorious. I couldn't put it down.
Posted August 25, 2012
I just finished reading this book and I loved it. The setting, the
characters, the intrigue...it's all fabulous. I couldn't put it down.The
author does a great job pulling the reader into the life of the
Berillis--a privileged, dysfunctional family--and mixing historical
details with suspense and music. A must read if you like
Posted August 12, 2012
The beautiful city of Genoa holds many secrets in 1910; the most alarming belong to the upper class. Centered on the Berilli family, which holds its reputation high above all else, The House of Serenades reveals the best and the worst of human nature in that city. As the story of two lovers unfolds with gender, as well as class struggles, the damages of incest, misogyny, and chauvinism are not easily overcome by love alone. Perhaps music is the great healer. I enjoyed this book immensely as its conflicting morals and emerging truths kept me intrigued to the last page.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 1, 2012
An author to watch.
This was an enjoyable read, set in Genoa of 1914. It had a good feel for the era, with a generous sprinkling of secrets, corruption and tragedy. It highlighted the distinct class separation of the times and the low esteem in which women were held.
Giuseppe Berelli was a well respected lawyer in the city, he owned his own firm and employed his two sons. His social position was everything and he would go to extreme lengths to maintain it. It was against this background that his daughter, Caterina, fell in love with, Ivano, a baker's son. The relationship caused an uproar and Guiseppe reacted violently.
Ivano, a skilled mandolin player did everything he could to reach Caterina, but how could a mere baker pitch himself against the powers of Guiseppe?
The characters were well written but some of Ivano's reactions were a bit excessive and his love-lorn character did get a bit exaggerated. There were some interesting secrets, timely revealed, but the ending could have been improved.
Although I could sense that this was the author's first book, I would happily read her again, hopefully her maturing style will make for an even better read.
Posted July 31, 2012
A saga of redemption
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (6/12)
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 Simon
Posted July 26, 2012
I love reading historical novels and I love music. When I read The House of Serenades I could hear Ivano’s mandolin and felt for his lost love and his found love. While reading, I thought I was in Italy alongside the Berillis, feeling Caterina’s pain. I couldn’t put the book down and was sad when it ended. I wanted it to go on and on. A wonderful read. I can’t wait for this author’s next novel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 19, 2012
4.5 stars out of 5: This is an excellent book for readers looking for a satisfying love-story with old-world charm and historical detail. Characters are the driving focus of the novel, but the story never loses its sense of plot. Ms. Simoni maintains a dramatic sense of tension through the whole novel with well constructed scenes and dialogue. It’s an emotional and intelligent story told with a wonderful sense of timing and plot. Readers looking for murderous mayhem may be disappointed, but for audiences looking for a well-grounded love-story with historical and political implications “House of Serenades” is definitely worth the time and money.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 4, 2012
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I read Lina Simoni’s previous novel, The Scent of Rosa’s Oil and absolutely loved it. So I was eager to read THE HOUSE OF SERENADES! I was as enchanted with this second novel as I was the first. When you open the pages of THE HOUSE OF SERENADES, you will experience the fascinating culture of Italy’s golden era. From the grand salas in the homes of the wealthy nobility to the humble shops of the working class, this story explores how the social classes were distinct and so greatly divided.
At the heart of the story is the patriarch of the Berelli family, Giuseppe Berelli, a man who has hidden a deep, dark secret for most of his life. Now in the twilight of his years, the secret that he has so faithfully kept, is about to be revealed. He struggles to keep it secret because it can ruin not only his social status, but his entire life and all that he has worked for. It is shocking how far this man went to protect his name and status. A wonderful, dark antagonist!
The love story is about a young woman from the highest classes of society who falls in love with a baker’s son and their two families who try to keep them apart. After learning that his daughter has lost her virginity to her lover, her father banishes her to a strict convent. At the same time, his two sons bring more troubles to the family, one through unruly drunkenness, and the other highly aggressive. And to stir the tension further, there is a corrupt doctor desperate to keep his own secrets and a nosy police chief who is anxious to uncover the secrets of a crime.
With plenty of subplots to keep readers interested and hooked, there is plenty to like. Larger than life, highly believable characters pepper this book’s pages. Hatred, bitterness, unrequited love, corruption, and a profound love story kept me turning the pages, eager to read on. This is an epic family saga, filled with plenty of tension and a story line that not only fascinates, but is highly satisfying.
The plight of Italian women in the early 20th century was clearly portrayed through Caterina and Matilda. Their stories were not only poignant, but heartfelt as their helplessness and inability to take control of their lives brought to life the many struggles faced by women of their time. As a person with a strong Italian background and able to read and write in both languages, I found the story authentic to the times and culture.
Posted May 30, 2012
Wealthy Italian families, lost love, definite class separation, and family secrets is what you will find in the THE HOUSE OF SERENADES. Many of the characters had secrets, but Giuseppe Berelli had the biggest secret of them all. Giuseppe kept a secret his entire life, and he was now becoming afraid the truth would come out and ruin his life. Giuseppe told stories to cover up his secret and to try to keep his family from losing their class distinction and power.
The storyline focuses on class distinction and prestige and the worry about losing it all by going to any length no matter what the cost. The eloquent, descriptive writing style and the saga of the Berelli family of Genoa, Italy, will keep your curiosity peaked. And what a saga it was. There was hatred within families, jealousy among neighbors, shady dealings, corrupt doctors, nosy house help, pompous families, death threats to the Berilli family, and things that must be kept secret not only by Giuseppe but others in the town. These were secrets that ate at the characters every day of their lives. Secrets that they never should have told anyone because you never know how things will work out.
The book has different underlying themes, outstanding characters beautifully developed by the author, well-kept secrets, and explanations of the customs and mindset of this era in history. The mindset of different classes not mingling and the sneering of the upper class toward the lower class seemed to cause more trouble and pain than was necessary. This era also made evident how women were treated so poorly. Caterina and Matilda's heartbreaking stories describe very vividly the treatment of women and how they had no rights.
If the title and cover are puzzling you, you will need to read this intriguing, very appealing book to find out the significance. The storyline is unique and very captivating. My being Italian enhanced the enjoyment with the inclusion of the authentic Italian names and phrases. Each character had a story of his/her own and each of their lives, their evilness, their innocence, and their secrets were entangled to create an unforgettable tale of love, treachery, tragedy, and unforgivable acts. I hope my review does justice to this amazing book......the content, the setting, and beautiful flow of the story are worth the read. 5/5