Welcome to the second stop on this week’s blog tour coinciding with the release of Luca Di Fulvio’s UK debut, The Boy Who Granted Dreams. If, like me, you have a fondness for films such as The Godfather, Once Upon A Time In America or Gangs of New York, I can pretty much guarantee that you will enjoy this novel greatly. Tracking the immigration of fifteen year old Cetta, and her young son, Natale from rural Italy to New York in search of a better life, Di Fulvio has constructed a vivid and powerful portrait of life in America at the turn of the twentieth century. In their new home, they find the merciless laws of gangs rule the miserable, poverty-stricken, and crime-filled Lower East Side. Only those with enough strength and conviction survive. As young Natale grows up in the Roaring Twenties, he takes a page from his crippled mother’s book and finds he possesses a certain charisma that enables him to charm the dangerous people around him. Weaving Natale’s unusual life and quest for his one true love against the gritty backdrop of New York’s underbelly, Di Fulvio proves himself a master storyteller, as he constructs enticing characters ravaged by circumstance, driven by dreams, and awakened by destiny. Although I confess to only being some way into the book at the time of writing this, I am already hypnotised by the journey to adulthood Natale is experiencing, and intrigued by his incredibly natural feel for manipulation and charm to protect himself, and yet stealthily achieve his long term ambitions. I love the real sense of time and place that Di Fulvio is weaving as a backdrop to the story, and the colourful and vital characterisation that leaps from the pages. But don’t just take my word for it, and feast your eyes on the first part of an extract (to be continued on Friday by Cara at The Tattooed Book ) to enter the world of The Boy Who Granted Dreams…
“At first there were two of them watching her grow up — the mother and the padrone. One of them watched with dread, the other with a lazy lustfulness. But before she could become a woman, the mother made sure that the padrone wouldn’t look at her any more.
When the child was twelve years old, her mother mashed a thick juice out of poppy seeds, as the oldest women had taught her. She made the girl drink it, and, when she saw her start to stagger and grow drowsy, she picked her up and carried her on her back across the dusty path in front of their hut — on the padrone’s land — down to the dry stream bed and the dead oak tree. She broke a big branch off the old tree, then ripped the little girl’s dress and struck her forehead with a sharp stone, there where she knew much blood would flow. She pulled her daughter into an awkward pose on the stony riverbed — as if she’d rolled down the bank, falling from the dead tree — and left her there, with the broken branch on top of her. Then she came back to the hut and waited for the men to return from the fields, while she kept on stirring a pot of soup with onions, and lard. Only then did she tell one of her sons to go and look for Concetta, the little girl.
She went on grumbling, saying that girl was always running off to play, maybe down by the old oak. She complained to her husband that that child was a curse, moving like quicksilver but with her head always someplace else; she couldn’t give her a task because she’d start out and then forget it halfway through, and she was no help in the house, either. Her husband called her names and told her to shut up, and then he went outside to smoke. She — while her son went across the path that led down to the riverbed and the dead oak — went back to stirring the pot of soup with its lard, and onions; her heart hammering in her breast.
While she was waiting she heard, as she did every evening, the padrone’s automobile pass in front of their house. He always sounded his horn twice, because, he said, the little girls liked it so much. It was true that Concetta was drawn by that sound every evening, even though for the last year her mother had forbidden her to run out of the house to greet the padrone. She would go to the window and peep out. And the mother would hear the padrone laughing from inside the cloud of dust raised by his automobile.
Because Concetta — everyone said this, but the padrone said it too often — was a really beautiful child and was going to be a beautiful big girl….”
to be continued….
Luca Di Fulvio was born in 1957 in Rome where he now works as an independent author. His versatile talent allows him to write riveting adult thrillers and cheerful children’s stories (published under a pseudonym) with equal ease. One of his previous thrillers, “L’Impagliatore,” was filmed in Italian under the title “Occhi di cristallo.” Di Fulvio studied dramaturgy in Rome where he was mentored by Andrea Camilleri. The Boy Who Granted Dreams is published 23rd March by Bastei Entertainment and is available as an e-book from online retailers.
The blog tour for The Boy Who Granted Dreams continues tomorrow at Liz Loves Books