Thursday, January 22, 2015

Forgotten Objects by Carlos Rubio

"No one was surprised when Anna d'Amio agreed to marry Harry Wilson, a man many years her senior and not particularly good looking. Sole heir to a fortune whose origins could be traced to the steel mills around Pittsburgh, his wealth and social connections still made him, in the eyes of many, a great catch." (Opening Paragraph)

Synopsis:  Forgotten Objects traces the life of Anna d’Amio, daughter of opera singers Louis and Francesca d’Amio, from Mussolini’s Italy to the city of Pittsburgh during the mid sixties. The novel proper is made up of three parts: Italy, Cuba and United States. Married at seventeen and widowed at twenty, Anna leaves war-torn Italy to find her fortune in Cuba, she eventually meets Ramón Contreras, a wealthy tobacco grower who later becomes her second husband. The idyllic world that the couple had so laboriously built suddenly comes crashing down after the communist take over of the island and Ramón’s sudden and violent death. Now with two daughters under her care, Anna soon realizes that there is no future for them in Cuba, so she opts to send them to the United States through the Pedro Pan Program. Eventually she comes to the US herself, but by then the girls have been placed in foster homes. It is during this stage of her life, penniless and without influence, that she must make the greatest sacrifices to regain custody of her daughters. At the end of the novel, we find a series of letters, all dated 2005, that were exchanged by the sisters after their mother passed away. Anna left behind a box containing a collection of sundry items that she had collected throughout her life. Cognizant that these were significant for their mother, they attempt to piece together a sketch of her life through these forgotten objects.

Review by Mirella Patzer

Forgotten Objects by Carlos Rubino is a lush story about the life Anna d'Amio whose parents were opera singers and died when she was a very young woman. Alone at the age of 17, Anna must make her own way through life. With an incredibly rich and detailed prose that flows beautifully throughout the story, the story opens in Naples during Mussolini's rise to power at the cusp of World War II. Dangerous circumstances and death force Anna to leave behind the life and only home she knew in Naples, flee war-torn Italy, and cross the ocean for Cuba. Historical details and vibrant descriptions pepper each page as the reader is immersed first into the Italian culture, then Cuba, and finally America. The writing is so rich and profound, it truly feels as if you are watching a movie. 

Rich in historical detail, Anna who finds herself trapped between times of war and peace as she struggles to find happiness, success, and love. Forced to take risks, Anna faces her losses with amazing strength as she creates a livelihood for herself. She encounters love in three different countries and different times of war and peace. 

This sweeping novel's main themes are the struggle to survive, intense love, and binding relationships that shape our lives. The story evokes great emotion, as well as it entertains. With such incredibly human and complex characters, they truly came to life as I read. If you like novels that realistically sweep you into other countries with an engaging plot and immaculate writing, this novel is sure to fascinate. I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed this novel. Bravo Carlos Rubio! You have left us craving for more of your work!

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