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 oldThe Day the Amores Diedand reveals, once and for all, a truth that will either heal or shatter the Amore clan.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
SUZANNE PALMIERI is the author of The Witch of Little Italy and 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.
Read an Excerpt
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
Table of Contents
Part One: Winter,
8. The Sisters Amore,
9. Elly and Liz,
Part Two: Spring,
13. The Sisters Amore,
22. The Sisters Amore (Past),
Part Three: Summer,
32. The Amore Sisters,
34. The Day the Amores Died,
Reading Group Guide,
Praise for The Witch of Little Italy,
About the Author,
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 familybut 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 deara 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 loveboth familial and romanticis? 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?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
I enjoyed this book very much.
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!!
I was completely enchanted by this book.
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.
An entertaining book, a pleasure to read.
I enjoyed this book. My grandmother always talked to me about growing up in Little Italy. I enjoyed that the story was told from many different people position in the family. Explaining 4 generations, from two different nationalities. The writing about the food had me drooling. The dishes were things that I grew up eating and learnt how to make. I love the she brought in both the Irish and and Italian feelings about it. It is a story of how mothers and daughters can be so different and yet still love each other.
Eloquently written. If you are in a book slump, pick this one up.
If you've ever enjoyed the touch of magic this is a must read. Beautiful well written experience
Great read. Made me laugh and cry. Could not put it down.
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.
Nice easy read. Great for quick trip or sitting on the porch with a glass of wine.
Confusing story which seemed to be less of a book & more of a screen play. Too many characters & most of them are dead.