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Between Two Seas Paperback – January 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Steeped in the muggy summers and rich culture of Calabria, Abate's American debut is the intoxicating story of a man's lifelong obsession to raise from long-abandoned ruins a legendary family inn once visited by Alexandre Dumas. Giorgio Bellusci, born in 1927, is by middle age a relatively prosperous butcher and landowner who answer the demands of local gangsters for protection money with an outburst of murderous violence that sends him to prison. But his dream doesn't die, and he begins work on the inn after being released. The gangsters, meanwhile, want their revenge and blow up the almost reconstructed Fondaco del Fico. With some creative fund-raising and the assistance of Florian, the novel's narrator, the now elderly Giorgio succeeds in finishing his life's work. Abate populates this magical novel with a cast of captivating, emotionally complex characters drawn from multiple generations and from across time, and recreates the rhythms of life in a small village with poetic affection. (Jan.)
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About the Author

Carmine Abate was born in 1954 in Carfizzi, an Italo-Albanian community in Calabria, Italy. He immigrated to Germany at a young age and then moved to Trentino, northern Italy, where he currently lives. His first book, a collection of short stories, was published in 1984. He has since published numerous prize-winning novels and a collection of poetry.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (January 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372400
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372402
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,795,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Florian Heumann, the young narrator of this intense and moving study of families and their memories, has just arrived with his family from Hamburg, where he lives, to visit his mother's ancestral home in southern Italy for a family vacation. His grandfather, Giorgio Bellusci, is absent, but no one will tell him where his grandfather is. All we learn is that his grandfather has been a friend of Hans Heumann, Florian's other grandfather.

Gradually, through flashbacks, the family history unfolds, following numerous generations, all memorably depicted, and their lives in Roccalba, a town in the "toe of Italy" located between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas. Just as the Calabrian peninsula separates the two seas, it also separates the life forces which drive the novel--the sense of romanticism vs. hard-nosed reality, the generosity and love for others vs. long-time vendettas, and the drive to fulfill one's dreams vs. the loss of one's dreams due to outside forces.

Three generations of Belluscis form the novel's backbone. In 1835, an early Giorgio Bellusci entertained Alexandre Dumas at the family's inn, the Fondaco del Fico. The journal, which Dumas left behind, and a sketch made by Jadin, the artist who accompanied him, are now Bellusci family icons. Florian's grandfather, also named Giorgio, was a young man in the 1950s when he became guide for a traveling photographer, Hans Heumann, who eventually became world famous.

Florian, the narrator, is the grandson of both Hans Heumann and Giorgio Bellusci, and he brings the story of the inn and its history to life, uniting all the generations of the past. The Fondaco del Fico was destroyed in a fire during the time of Florian's grandfather, and it has remained a pile of rubble, taunting Giorgio to rebuild.
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