The Silent Madonna
Santa Lucia, Book 2 • By Michelle Damiani • ★★★★★
A sequel to Santa Lucia—a novel I called "my favorite novel of 2017"—The Silent Madonna continues the themes of magic and light, follows characters old and new, and wraps together all the crazy, disparate threads in an enormously satisfying ending.
After the disaster that the town experienced at the end of Santa Lucia, the townspeople begin to recover. And they eagerly await the arrival of an American, last heir to the castle on the hilltop that has cast its long shadow over the the town. Soon, Santa Lucia begins to transform the American, much to the consternation of his deliciously narcissistic wife—and much to the confusion (and sometimes joy) of the local woman who captures his heart.
Ah, but it wouldn't be a Damiani novel without multiple interconnected character arcs, and she deftly weaves in everything from an estranged wife's pregnancy to an homage-laden reshaping of Pride and Prejudice. Throw in a nasty ex-husband, a little girl hungry for familial bonds, and bird attacks that would make Hitchcock proud, and it's clear that Damiani has written a book that transcends genre. I haven't read a book this delightful and satisfying in a long, long time.
As much as I enjoyed Santa Lucia, Damiani's outdone herself with The Silent Madonna. I know it's only March, but The Silent Madonna sets the bar unrealistically high for my choice for Book of the Year. Highly recommended—I wish I could award a sixth star.
—Paul Austin Ardoin