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The Witch of Little Italy

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Overview

In Suzanne Palmieri’s charming debut, The Witch of Little Italy, you will be bewitched by the Amore women. When young Eleanor Amore finds herself pregnant, she returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx, called by “The Sight” they share now growing strong within her. She has only been back once before when she was ten years old during a wonder-filled summer of sun-drenched beaches, laughter and cartwheels. But everyone remembers that summer except her. Eleanor can’t remember anything from before she ...

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The Witch of Little Italy

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Overview

In Suzanne Palmieri’s charming debut, The Witch of Little Italy, you will be bewitched by the Amore women. When young Eleanor Amore finds herself pregnant, she returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx, called by “The Sight” they share now growing strong within her. She has only been back once before when she was ten years old during a wonder-filled summer of sun-drenched beaches, laughter and cartwheels. But everyone remembers that summer except her. Eleanor can’t remember anything from before she left the house on her last day there. With her past now coming back to her in flashes, she becomes obsessed with recapturing those memories. Aided by her childhood sweetheart, she learns the secrets still haunting her magical family, secrets buried so deep they no longer know how they began. And, in the process, unlocks a mystery over fifty years old—The Day the Amores Died—and reveals, once and for all, a truth that will either heal or shatter the Amore clan.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Audio
When Eleanor Amore was ten years old, she spent a magical summer in the Bronx, NY, with her aunts, playing hide-and-seek, exploring Far Rockaway beach, and meeting her first love. Unfortunately, she has no memory of that time, the bonds she made, or anything else from before her last day there. Years later, pregnant and desperate, Eleanor is inexplicably drawn back to that Bronx apartment. With the help of her aunts and a rekindled romance, she begins slowly to uncover the memories of that summer and the dark secrets that made her forget. Narrator Cassandra Campbell seamlessly transitions from the youthful voice of Eleanor to the aunts’ elderly tones, giving each woman a distinct and discernible voice. Fans of Sarah Addison Allen will appreciate the incorporation of magical elements throughout the story, such as the Amore aunts’ “sight” and their ability to create powerful herbal concoctions.

Verdict Recommended for all public libraries. [“This is an earnest effort at a sweet family story, but it falls short of its mark. Trite, overreaching, and unbelievable at best,” read the less enthusiastic review of the Griffin: St. Martin’s hc, LJ 12/12.—Ed.]—Elizabeth Hoff, Bulverde Spring Branch Lib., TX
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From the Publisher

"Palmieri’s enthralling debut will make adult readers nostalgic for beloved books from their childhoods. Abundant with secrets, hidden passageways, magic and several enchanting mysteries, it'll keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. The magic and witchcraft elements are subtle, enhancing the over-all effect of this clever, beautiful novel." – RT Bookclub 

"In her debut novel, Palmieri has combined romance and mystery, folklore and psychology to create a jigsaw puzzle of family secrets and tragedies, losses and loves, guilt and forgiveness....Entertaining."—Kirkus

 “Charming and enchanting—The Witch of Little Italy drew me in from page one.  A magical story of family, secrets, loss and rediscovery written in beautiful prose and sprinkled with effervescent characters you won't soon forget.  Palmieri nimbly blends the past and present to concoct a delicious spell of a story that will appeal to fans of Sarah Addison Allen and other fabulously entertaining novels.” – Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of The Beach Trees

"The Witch of Little Italy is a warmly enchanting debut that will have you believing in magic and craving homemade Buccatini Amatriciano."—Susanna Kearsley, New York Times author of The Winter Sea, Mariana and The Rose Garden

“I was utterly enchanted from the first page, and found myself continually marveling over the effortless grace with which this story unfolded.    The Witch of Little Italy is a complex, richly textured tale that practically sings with magic, and I know Suzanne Palmieri has a long and brilliant career ahead of her.   In a word:  I was charmed.”—Donna Ball, award winning author of The Lady Bug Farm series

"An enchanting debut, Palmieri's plot makes for a wickedly good read!"–Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of the Blue Bloods series

"The Witch of Little Italy had me spellbound from the very start. Suzanne Palmieri has created a poignant, beautiful tale of love, magic, history, and family where all are deeply connected and interwoven."–Joanne Rendell, author of Crossing Washington Square and The Professors’ Wives’ Club

"A mystical family secret hidden in a spicy Italian stew."–Kelly Simmons, author of Standing Still and The Bird House

Library Journal
Palmieri's debut novel spins an unexpected pregnancy, mother/daughter strife, and a rocky senior year (at Yale, no less) into a web of decades-old family magical lore. When Eleanor Amore discovers her pregnancy, and her strained relationship with her mother is blown up by the news (and by Eleanor's mysterious memory loss of her early childhood), she abruptly packs in her last semester of college and moves to Brooklyn to live with her aunts. The Amores are gifted with The Sight—and, as we learn soon enough, so is Eleanor. The story weaves its way through the Amores' supernatural abilities and the family's past, Eleanor's previous visits to see them, and a blooming relationship with a young man she's known before—but doesn't remember. VERDICT This is an earnest effort at a sweet family story, but it falls short of its mark. Trite, overreaching, and unbelievable at best.—Julie Kane, Sweet Briar College Lib., VA
Kirkus Reviews
In her debut novel, Palmieri has combined romance and mystery, folklore and psychology to create a jigsaw puzzle of family secrets and tragedies, losses and loves, guilt and forgiveness. In the first chapter, we are told by Aunt Itsy about the Amore women's gift of "Sigh,"--their ability to see the future--and at the end of the novel, we learn how Itsy tries and succeeds in changing what she sees. In the second chapter, we are introduced to Itsy's niece, the glamorous but lonely actress Carmen, and her daughter Eleanor, aka Elly. We learn that Eleanor must be very bright, as she is a senior at Yale, that she is a talented painter and that she is newly pregnant. When she confronts her mother with this momentous news, she is disappointed in her mother's reaction: She advises her to get an abortion and get on with her life. Not receiving the love and comfort she was hoping for from her mother, she decides to go to the Bronx, where her mother's family shares a house, to seek the support of extended family. She also needs to escape an abusive boyfriend. Once she arrives at the family home, she has doubts about this move, but her old childhood crush, Anthony, helps her to overcome these, and she takes her place as a member of a family of women who love and want her among them. The story is told from the alternating points of view of Itsy, Elly and the sisters Amore, with their memories combining to answer Elly's lingering questions. Entertaining.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781470842994
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/26/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 7
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne Palmieri

SUZANNE PALMIERI is the author of The Witch of Little Italy and the forthcoming The Witch of Belladonna Bay (May, 2014). She is also the co-author of I'll Be Seeing You under the name Suzanne Hayes. She lives by the ocean with her husband and three darling witches. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.

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Read an Excerpt

The Witch of Little Italy


By Suzanne Palmieri

St. Martin's Griffin

Copyright © 2013 Suzanne Palmieri
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781250015518

1
 
Itsy
 
 
All the Amore siblings had The Sight in varying degrees, and its fickleness got us into trouble sometimes. Like the time when I was young (and still talking) and I called my friend’s husband to give my condolences about her death in a trolley crash, only my friend was still alive and the trolley wouldn’t crash until the next day.
It was hard to explain that one, and harder still to keep my friend off the trolley the following day even though I knew her life was at stake. Regular people have such a hard time listening to the low hum of instinct. Don’t get me wrong, I tire of the magic now that I’m old. But still, if I’d had it all to do over, I’d choose magic ways. Especially now, when another, more precious life is at stake.
She’s coming back now, the girl. She’s coming back and bringing my memories with her. Maybe she won’t remember anything. Dear God, don’t let her remember. If she remembers, she’ll land straight back in harm’s way. If she remembers, my promise will be broken. And that’d be too bad because it’s one of my best skills, promise keeping. And secret keeping. And cartwheels, too.
I used to be able to do cartwheels. When we were little, my sisters couldn’t but I could. I can still feel how the air shifted as I kicked over my head and moved my hands. I liked to do things upside down. It bothered Mama. “All the blood will rush to your head!” she would yell. Not to mention Papa and my skirts. “Cover yourself, child! If I can see your bloomers so can the whole block!”
I cartwheeled through my childhood. We weren’t poor, but we lived close together. We all lived here on 170th Street in the Bronx for the better portion of our lives. Mama and Papa bought the building when they married. Well, Papa won it. In a fight. They used to fight for money in the streets back then, and one day the wager was a building, and practical Papa, who’d never fought a day in his life, took off his shirt and threw it into the ring.
When we were very young, in those strange, magnificent years between World War I and World War II, we all lived in apartment 1A. Ten people and two bedrooms. Those were the days. Mama was the magic one. She gave us her abilities to see the future, to grow herbs and flowers that held all sorts of possible magical preparations, but the most important thing she gave us was the gift of each other.
But we’re old now, Mimi and Fee and me. We’re all that remain of the Amore children. Three children left out of eight, each of us carrying the burden of that day in our own way. And as we grow ever older, The Sight grows stronger.
On a cold, dark December night, we woke with the same dream and sat around the kitchen table looking into a bowl full of water. Our old lady hair pinned back, my knobby fingers scribbling on my pad with the pen that’s always fastened to my chest.
She’s coming, I wrote.
“She’s coming,” said Mimi.
“On Christmas?” asked Fee.
“Maybe…” said Mimi.
She’s coming. I underlined the words on my pad twice, for emphasis.
Mimi was afraid to believe, afraid to get excited. Her girls so rarely came to see us. But our Sight is strong. It grew as we grew. She should know better than to doubt it.
The Sight helped us through our darkest days, and our magic gardens made our lives wild like rambling roses. But our roses had thorns. Thorns sharper than those who live without magic could ever fathom. Like how Mama knew, even before the fortune-teller told her, that 1945 would be a very, very bad year for the Amores.
In the end, no amount of Sight could prepare us for the trouble that arrived. And those of us who were left carried the burden of “The Day the Amores Died” in our own way. We suffered our own tragedies and kept our own secrets. Secrets that scattered pieces of us into the winds for the sparrows to collect and keep, until the day the girl returned.


 
Copyright © 2013 by Suzanne Palmieri


Continues...

Excerpted from The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri Copyright © 2013 by Suzanne Palmieri. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Facing what seems like an impossible situation, Eleanor decides to leave all that she knows and return to her estranged family in the Bronx. This decision was hasty, but all of her instincts were telling her to go. Would you have made the same choice? Were there any other options that may have taken the story in another direction? How often do you trust your own instinct (instead of logic) when making a decision?

2. The bond that Mimi, Itsy, and Fee share is a strong one. How do you think the loss they suffered together as young women helped define their relationship?

3. Mama, Margaret Green, is the keeper of all the wisdom in the family—but she has many flaws. What are some moments when Margaret was “less than perfect”? Did her flaws diminish her relationship with her children? Why or why not?

4. Many young women suffer from domestic abuse in romantic relationships. The signature of these relationships is that they are difficult to leave. Yet Elly seems to be able to walk away from Cooper without too much internal questioning. What do you think helped her to overcome the abuse so quickly?

5. Though the women in this novel consider themselves witches, what kind of magic do they practice? Is this very far from the traditions, habits, and superstitions that can be found in almost every family? What were some “magical” traditions that you remember from growing up (examples: “Step on the Crack, Break Your Mother’s Back,” black cats, the number 13…)? How do you think these superstitions or traditions can bring people, especially family, together?

6. Anthony is very sure of his love for Elly. How does he know her so well? He knows her better than she knows herself, and he helps her rediscover the memories that hold the key to her entire personality. In many ways, their love story is the stuff of movies. Has there ever been anyone that you loved, no matter what? How do you think a love like that shapes you? How do you think it shaped Elly?

7. Throughout the novel Itsy has a secret that she holds very dear—a secret that, had her family known sooner, might have changed many things. How do you think their lives might have been different if Itsy had, at the time, added to the Amore tragedies, but in a sense, freed herself of the weight of her secret?

8. Mimi and Carmen have a complicated relationship. Mimi never took care of Carmen emotionally when she was a child because The Sight told her that Carmen would leave one day. Do you think if she had, things might have been different? Or would Carmen have left anyway? Was it in Carmen’s nature to be cold and leave, or was that her nature because of her lack of nurturing?

9. Elly changed significantly from the first page to the last. Do you think this was because she recovered all her memories or because she learned what real love—both familial and romantic—is? Could she have become whole with only one or the other? Discuss.

10. There is an unwritten element of the adage “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” with regard to Mimi and the aunts. Do you think this a purposeful theme added by the author, or did it occur organically? And, how does this theme play into the events of the story?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2013

    Anonymous

    Wow! I'm really, really surprised by the reviews of this book! Everyone gave it five stars! I can't see it, at all! It's a cute little story, but really, five stars?? There's no depth. It's childish and quite silly, but I guess if that's what you're into, five stars it is! I expected a lot more, so, for me, it's only two stars.

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Eleanor Amore finally opens her eyes to the abusive relationship

    Eleanor Amore finally opens her eyes to the abusive relationship with her boyfriend Copper once she realizes she is pregnant. She is hoping her mom will help her out, but to no avail. She decides she will go back to the one place she always felt she belonged, where she felt safe...back to Bronx. Back to her Amore family! Back to where Eleanor lost her memory when she was ten, but also where she feels she left her heart. 




    When she returns to her family, she begins regaining flashes of memories from her earlier life. Learning more about her past pushes Eleanor to figure out the family mystery...what happened the day the Amore's died. The only way for her to have a future is the figure out the past. 




    The Witch of Little Italy is filled with magic, family, and tradition. Once I had the chance to really sit down and read I really just didn't want to put it down. I was drawn into the magical world of the Amore's, I wanted to figure out the mystery. I wanted to know and understand the family history! 




    The novel mainly goes back and forth between Eleanor's point of view and her Aunt Itsy. The Aunt Itsy chapters gives the reader more information, as well as more questions. Some parts of the mystery I was able to figure out, but man the ones I didn't!! Loved it! This is just a great read! I read a quote on the back of the book that truly sums up and I wanted to share it.




    "I was utterly enchanted from the first page, and found myself continually marveling over the effortless grace with which this story unfolded. This is a complex, richly textured tale that practically sings with magic, and I know Suzanne Palmieri has a long and brilliant career ahead of her. In a word: I was charmed."




    --Donna Ball, award-winning author of the Ladybug Farm series. 




    I honestly agree with Ms. Ball's description of the book! I was charmed! I am highly recommending The Witch of Little Italy! 

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2013

    A daughter ought to be able to rely on her mother, especially wh

    A daughter ought to be able to rely on her mother, especially when she is in an abusive relationship with a man who assaults her, when somehow, she finds herself pregnant by this very man. But suppose your mother turns her back? Where can you go then for help? With your questions about why you and your mother are so estranged and your sad, frightened heart? Not back to the boyfriend. At least you know that much. An ordinary woman in such circumstances would be very limited in her options. But suppose she had access to a little magic? Suppose she had just the thread, the glimmer of a memory from her childhood of a certain trio of sisters, her aunts and a grandmother, who might help her? The witch of Little Italy has these very assets, but she's also a bit leery. She can't quite remember the last times she visited these women other than she knows things happened, uncomfortable things. Secrets were uttered, and then hidden away, that were perhaps dangerous. Our budding witch has no idea of her powers. She's unsure of her welcome. There are more questions than answers, the odd, sulfurous gleam of a mystery. 

    Still, despite her misgivings, her trepidation, our girl sets off on her journey to a land that is enchanted, that spins threads of real-world wisdom with tendrils of magic. In a narrative voice that is at once delightful and poignant, Suzanne Palmieri, unfolds the history of the Amore clan until finally, in the end, the pieces of the puzzle fall into a wonderful and heartfelt symmetry. I was enticed and intrigued from the very first page.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2013

    This is an amazing story... major character development that dr

    This is an amazing story... major character development that draws you into the book. The mystery of the Amore women drew me in from the first paragraph, I couldn't stop reading!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2013

    I had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne at a book signing 5/21/13.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne at a book signing 5/21/13. She is such a remarkable lady. So sweetly spoken.So excited to share her knowledge with us. I starting reading her book right after she signed it and I couldn't stop. What a wonderful story. Suzanne is such a great writer. I can't wait for her next book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Amazing

    I loved this book. The story line had twists and turns and kept me very interested. I can't wait for the author to write another book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2013

    Oh how I loved this book. Set in the Bronx, it's like all the be

    Oh how I loved this book. Set in the Bronx, it's like all the best parts of Practical Magic combined with an Italian version of Like Water For Chocolate (be prepared for mouth watering descriptions), and a pinch of YaYa Sisterhood thrown in. The romance between Elly and Anthony is delightful and sweet; the old ladies are easy to love, yet so deeply flawed;and  the mystery about what happened the day the Amores died will keep you turning pages long after your "just one more chapter" has expired.
    Wonderful debut. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    Wonderful

    I enjoyed this book very much.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2013

    Such a wonderful book! Made me laugh, cry, think and I read it f

    Such a wonderful book! Made me laugh, cry, think and I read it fast! Can't wait for her next book~The Witch of Belladonna Lake? Creek? LOL. A wonderful writer!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2013

    I was completely enchanted by this book.  

    I was completely enchanted by this book.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Moving delightful story

    If you've ever enjoyed the touch of magic this is a must read. Beautiful well written experience

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  • Posted April 30, 2014

    Great read.  Made me laugh and cry.  Could not put it down.

    Great read.  Made me laugh and cry.  Could not put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    Light and easy

    Nice easy read. Great for quick trip or sitting on the porch with a glass of wine.



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    Posted November 6, 2014

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    Posted June 3, 2013

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    Posted April 23, 2013

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    Posted April 30, 2014

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    Posted June 3, 2013

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