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The Black Madonna has long protected her mountain villagers in southern Italy, and some say she followed her people to America. What else explains the magic and miracles on Spring Street in Little Italy over the decades?
Teresa, whose son Nicky should never have walked again after his four-story fall, keeps a holy card of the Black Madonna hidden beneath her underwear. Magdalena, beautiful and mysterious, can make any man fall in love with her, including her stepson Salvatore, by praying secretly to an image of the Black Madonna in her attic. And Antoinette, after giving birth to five girls, had Jumbo, the biggest baby Spring Street ever saw -- once she had the Black Madonna's portrait in her kitchen.
Vibrant, dark-souled creatures who get their way, control their lives, and pass on arcane knowledge like family heirlooms from generation to generation, Teresa, Magdalena, and Antoinette, with their intersecting lives, take center stage in The Black Madonna. This is an exploration of how each woman, and her beloved son, is forever changed by the Madonna of Viggiano. Louisa Ermelino's wonderful novel reveals a delicious truth: that it is the Italian-American women who hold the secrets -- and the power -- from the "other side," and that they know how to use them.
A celebration of mother love and magic, The Black Madonna is filled with the sights, sounds, smells, and taste of Little Italy. Ultimately, it is a vibrant and life-affirming saga that all Americans will want to embrace as their own.
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Louisa Ermelino is a reporter for InStyle magazine. She's worked at Time and People magazines and for the television show Top Cops. A native of the Italian neighborhood in New York City that borders Greenwich Village, she lives there with her husband, Carlo Cutolo. They have three daughters: Ariane, Ruby, and Lucy.From Publishers Weekly:
Never mind the Mafia; it's the mamas you have to watch out for. At least that's what Ermelino would have you believe in her zesty debut novel about life in New York's Little Italy from the '40s through the '60s. In an old-fashioned neighborhood where the people who have surrounded you all your life can be depended on to behave in predictable ways, a group of women gather nightly on a Spring Street stoop, mothers willing to protect their children at all costs. There's Teresa, whose young son Nicky loses the power to walk following an accident, only to miraculously regain it at the funeral of the father who abandoned him; Magdalena, the siren from the Old Country, married to an older man with "connections"; and Antoinette, mother to Jumbo, the largest bambino (at approximately 23 pounds) that Spring Street has ever seen. These women all believe strongly in fate, but when fate needs a little shove, they're more than willing to provide it, particularly when Jumbo, now grown, takes up with a nice Jewish girl. All the women pray to the eponymous black-faced Madonna, a famous statue in Viggiano, Italy, and some see their prayers answered. Ermelino catches the earthy voices of her Italian-American blue-collar paisanos, and she weaves a fast-moving plot that makes up for its thinness with atmospheric detail. Though essentially more a collection of vignettes than a novel, the warmth and humor of this slice-of-lives storytelling are seductive. Agent, Elaine Markson. (Mar.)Forecast: With blurbs from, among others, Fay Weldon, Susan Isaacs and Vincent Patrick, this novel should garner reviewer and reader attention. That Ermelino still lives in Manhattan's Little Italy could prove a useful publicity hook and, if tapped into, her media experience--with TV's Top Cops, at Time and People, and currently at In Style, where she's a reporter--will help sell books. Featuring great roles for character actresses, this engaging novel has TV sitcom potential.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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