The House at the Edge of Night – Catherine Banner, 1 Beautiful Island & Many Lives

The House at the Edge of Night is the first book by British author Catherine Banner that I have read, and I think it will be the last. Let me explain right away; It’s not a bad book, but it’s so ordinary that I thought it would be okay if I didn’t read it at all. It could not leave me a sentence to write in my notebook, nor a moment to dwell on it.


The House at the Edge of Night, which we read with my book club, had more or less the same effect on all of us. A few of us even thought we had read this story somewhere at one time or another. However, if you’re into stories set in Italy or on an island, The House at the Edge of Night, you can enjoy it at the beach.

The House at the Edge of Night - Catherine Banner

The House at the Edge of Night takes place on an island called Castellamare, far from mainland Italy. It tells the story of four generations of a family through the influence of this island on them. On the one hand, the book tells the answer to the question of what it would be like to live on a small Mediterranean island exquisitely because this situation has both good and bad sides.

On the one hand, everyone is gossiping about everyone; everyone knows everything, and private life disappears. On the other hand, in such a life where everyone knows everyone, one feels more secure. For example, help arrives without even asking for help. And what is called theft on the island is not well known.

The House at the Edge of Night describes the lives of the inhabitants of the island of Castellamare and the events taking place in the world. There are wars, economic crises, fascism, lost sons, re-established orders and love lived despite everything, and people’s struggle for survival. Of course, plenty of Italian drinks and food are also available. For those who are curious, The House at the Edge of Night would make a good beach read. Enjoy!

If you enjoy reading books set on islands, you’ll love this list: 20 Fascinating Books Set on Islands

The House at the Edge of Night - Catherine Banner

The House at the Edge of Night

The House at the Edge of Night “A perfect summer read [that] brims with heart . . . Don’t be surprised if you keep turning the pages long into the night, spellbound by its magic.”—The Denver Post

A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry of works by Isabel Allende.

The House at the Edge of Night NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • Los Angeles Public Library • Kirkus Reviews

“Captivating . . . [Catherine] Banner’s four-generation saga is set on an island near Sicily, where myths of saints get served up with limoncello at the Esposito family’s bar. . . . The island is fictional, but consider this dreamy summer read your passport.”—People

“A lusty page-turner that weaves romance, rivalry and the intricacies of family expectations into one glorious tale.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.

Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness.

Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories—and this magical novel takes you there.

Catherine Banner

From Catherine Banner website

Welcome to my website. I am a 31-year-old writer, born in Cambridge, UK, and living in Turin, Italy. My first novel, following 95 years on a tiny island in the Mediterranean, is The House at the Edge of Night. It was a Kirkus Reviews, Los Angeles Public Library and NPR best book of 2016, and was listed as one of New York Magazine’s ‘100 Greatest Beach Reads Ever’. In 2018, it won the Saint Maur ‘Coup de Coeur’ Prize in France, and was a USA Today bestseller. I am currently working on my second book, The Lit and Unlit World.

The House at the Edge of Night - Catherine Banner

My work is published by Penguin Random House in English and is translated into 24 languages. Previously, I wrote a series of young adult books called The Last Descendants. I have also worked as a secondary school teacher. Although I now write full-time, I still work with children a few hours a week, currently as a volunteer tutor at the Arsenale della Piazza social project, which provides after-school support and activities for children in my local area in Turin.

With an interest in human rights, I am a member of the PEN International Writers’ Circle, and writing advisor to VOICE, a not-for-profit project which aims to challenge the existing narrative around development by providing a platform for humanitarian workers around the world, who work in their own communities, to be able to tell their own stories, in their own words. I supported the VOICE writers during the development of this book, A Definition of Snow, which contains fourteen of their stories and was published in 2019, and there are two more anthologies in progress.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Read Around the World, A Great Journey

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