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Solitaria [Paperback]

Genni Gunn
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2010 Signature Editions

When Vito Santoro's body is inadvertently unearthed by a demolition crew in Fregene, Italy, his siblings are thrown into turmoil, having been told by their sister Piera that Vito had fled to Argentina fifty years earlier after abandoning his wife and son. Piera, the self-proclaimed matriarch, locks herself in her room, refusing to speak to anyone but her Canadian nephew, David. Now scattered over three continents, the family members regroup in Italy to try to discover the truth.


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About the Author

Genni Gunn is a writer, musician and translator. Born in Trieste, she came to Canada when she was eleven. She has published eight books: two novels--Tracing Iris and Thrice Upon a Time, two short story collections--Hungers and On The Road, two poetry collections-- Faceless and Mating in Captivity. She has translated from the Italian two collections of poems, and two of her books have been translated into Italian. Her work has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the John Glassco Translation Award and the Gerald Lampert Award, and her novel Tracing Iris is being made into a feature film. Her opera, Alternate Visions premiered in Montreal in 2007 and was projected in a simulcast at The Western Front in Vancouver.


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Italian Frank McCourt with a mystery April 4 2011
Format:Paperback
Genni Gunn's new novel, Solitaria is a pleasure. Piera, the main character, is wonderful - well-intentioned in a way that only the narcissistic can be, poignant, very badly behaved, holding secrets and keys that are always subject to subjectivity. She is nicely counterpointed by her too dispassionate though affectionate nephew from Canada, the only person to whom she will reveal the key to the mystery - the story behind a body uncovered during renovations of a house on the Italian coast - the oldest brother in a family of 7. The story of the family is absorbing - I could see every two room house by the railway tracks among the scrub, the menace of the tracks nearby, the kids slightly out of control, the tired but very sexual parents. The writing is clear, lively, evocative. The structure with the discovery of the body and then taking the whole novel to reveal what happened worked beautifully ' I never felt manipulated and always just impatient enough. Gunn does a good job of describing the grinding poverty rural Italians experienced during and after World War II, often having only bread and wild dandelions with a teaspoon of oil to get by on. This is a world where sibling rivalry and resentment is much more real than the thin layer of expected familial love we project on the image screen we turn outward. Absorbing, pleasureable, intriguing.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Italian Frank McCourt with a mystery April 4 2011
By CC Writer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Genni Gunn's new novel, Solitaria is a pleasure. Piera, the main character, is wonderful - well-intentioned in a way that only the narcissistic can be, poignant, very badly behaved, holding secrets and keys that are always subject to subjectivity. She is nicely counterpointed by her too dispassionate though affectionate nephew from Canada, the only person to whom she will reveal the key to the mystery - the story behind a body uncovered during renovations of a house on the Italian coast - the oldest brother in a family of 7. The story of the family is absorbing - I could see every two room house by the railway tracks among the scrub, the menace of the tracks nearby, the kids slightly out of control, the tired but very sexual parents. The writing is clear, lively, evocative. The structure with the discovery of the body and then taking the whole novel to reveal what happened worked beautifully ' I never felt manipulated and always just impatient enough. Gunn does a good job of describing the grinding poverty rural Italians experienced during and after World War II, often having only bread and wild dandelions with a teaspoon of oil to get by on. This is a world where sibling rivalry and resentment is much more real than the thin layer of expected familial love we project on the image screen we turn outward. Absorbing, pleasureable, intriguing.
2.0 out of 5 stars Solitaria Dec 4 2012
By Rachel Pitch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written, but too melodramatic for my taste. For me, the story did not ring true. I would look forward to more mature work by this author.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous literary mystery set in Italy Dec 5 2010
By Great Historicals - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.

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