At an abandoned villa in Fregene, Italy, a seaside town on the Adriatic near Bari, a work crew accidentally unearths a body. Tests identified the gun-shot riddled body as that of Vito Santoro, a man presumed immigrated to Argentina decades earlier, and missing since the 1950's. The news rocks the Santoro family. As the family gathers from all corners of the world, its matriarch, Piera, locks herself in her room and refuses to speak to anyone other than her nephew, David, from Canada. She is the only one who knows the circumstances surrounding Vit's death. To David, Piera slowly begins to reveal the family secrets of the past.
With flashbacks to post-war Italy, David learns about the hard luck life of the Santoro family - the unfaithful father, a mother in the throes of depression, and of their children, each of whom struggles towards adulthood desirous of their own needs. Slowly, through Piera and David's conversation, he learns the darkest of family secrets, about love a love unrequited, and his true bloodlines.
This story captivates the reader from the very first pages. Told, with vividness and emotion, while being rich in its simplicity and ripe with emotion, this dark mystery unfolds slowly, entrancing the reader, luring them to its shocking ending. The novel explores poverty and human failure, vice and love, incest and death. It is a deeply intellectual story, moving but fulfilling.
The author, Genni Gunn, is of Italian roots, having been born in Trieste and having travelled extensively throughout Italy. Therefore, readers can be assured of the authentic Italian feel within the story concerning cultural and historical issues of the time. Ms. Gunn has been a finalist for the prestigious CBC Literary Awards, has published nine books: three novels, including Tracing Iris, which is being made into a film, and numerous short stories and poetry collections, one of which was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award. But, her talents do not end there. The author has also produced an opera, Alternate Visions, which premiered in Montreal in 2007. Her poem, "Hot Summer Nights," was turned into classical vocal music and has been widely performed all over the world.