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Rococo: A Novel Paperback – April 25, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Playing more than a dozen reoccurring characters living in the small Italian-American town of Our Lady of Fatima, N.J., Cantone gives a wildly entertaining tour de force performance that is both hilarious and moving. Fresh from his Tony Award–winning one-man show, Laugh Whore, Cantone performs with cyclone energy and his wickedly arch comedic timing is rapier sharp. The biggest surprise is his lightning-fast ability to become different characters, keep them vocally consistent and make them funny but not ridiculous. Trigiani's novel is less plot-driven than full of outrageous and wonderful characters trying to untangle family ties. Bartolomeo di Crespi (aka "B") is an interior designer and bachelor of a certain age who is hired to renovate the local church when he's not dealing with his sister (who's having an affair with her ex-husband), his platonic fiancé, a sultry international designer (who sounds like Lauren Bacall) and a hunky artist brought onto the project. This totally satisfying experience will make listeners happy to learn that it's the first in a planned trilogy. A q&a with Trigiani at the end of disk four is a delightful bonus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
With what level of seriousness can any reader accept a main character, Bartolomeo di Crespi, head of the House of Beauty, who's positioned as the town decorator for Our Lady of Fatima in New Jersey? On the other hand, it is truly a rollicking read, from Bart's mission/vision to redo the local church to his discovery of a genuine Modigliani statue that saves the job's finance after a wealthy local donor pulls the financial plug. The comic prose itself deserves applause; think of a cat described as an "oversized fuzzy slipper with eyes." Or Bart's former fiancee, Capri Mandelbaum, as a "40 year old green banana." All in good fun by the author of Lucia, Lucia (2003) and The Queen of the Big Time (2005). Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I loved so much about this novel! The setting is during the 70's in a small community in New Jersey. Bartolomeo is an Italian American, born and raised in a small town in New Jersey. His profession, interior decorating, is also his passion. He is the town's expert when it comes to style and fashion. All his life, it was his dream to renovate the church he was raised in, however the priest thought different and hired another decorator. B, as he is called, was devastated. However, in the story, the opportunity comes to him (when the original decorator didn't work out), and along comes the realization that though you are an expert to the locals, there is more of a challenge when you venture out of your comfort zone. B brings the world of design to the church, but not without conflict from the parishioners, he priest, and those doing the work with him.
The characters are all colorful, especially B's sister Toot, who is an older divorcee with 2 sons. B's relationship with her is one of love, respect and admiration, but a bit frustrating. It is this part of the book I enjoyed.
Of course, there is the parish priest, who has a secret, and the town's "grand dame", who has a daughter she would love B to marry. There is romance in the novel, but not for B.
I knew a Bartolomeo; Italian, Catholic and all, back in the early 80's whose home pretty well matched anything B would decorate. When I re-read the book, I imagined him as B.
If you are into decorating, you will love this book as the author goes into details on color schemes, textures, and designs. I bought this book for a friend of mine who is a local interior designer and she loved it.
This is a book that once you're done reading, you can say "now this is a great book". It just takes a bit getting into, mainly because of the detail on interior decorating..but then, this is what the story is about..an interior decorator and his relationships with those in his life.
The only reason I gave 4 stars (which I wish could be a 4 1/2) is because this is not what you expect at first.As I said, we sometimes over-assume. Also, there is a lot of detail in design, which some who read the book in my reading group, found distracting. The novel, otherwise is well written with a great story to tell.