In 1949, the arrival of an Italian family sets tongues wagging in the village of Leyton, an English farming community still recovering from the war. For seventeen-year-old Connie, however, the newcomers provide a tantalising glimpse of the wider world — a world beyond the gossip and petty concerns traded over the counter of Cleat’s Corner Store.
Under their father’s stern eye, the Onorati brothers adapt to their new life in remarkably different ways. While the charismatic Vittorio is determined to reinvent himself and embrace all things English, the solitary Lucio is haunted by the secrets of his past — events that tether him to the war in the mountains of Lazio.
As both brothers begin to cast an unexpected influence over Leyton, Connie realises that, like them, she must grapple with her ambitions and dreams for the future. But what can any of them hope to find in the ruins of all they’ve lost?
The Italians at Cleat’s Corner Store is a heartwarming, vividly observed tale of small-town life, exploring love, prejudice, and identity in the wake of World War II.
'[A] lovely sense of history and place … with acute observations on village life both English and Italian … A very confident first novel.'
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'This may be Jo Riccioni's debut but it has all the hallmarks of an accomplished and assured novelist … While the narrative has us captivated, the prose itself is a sheer joy. Characters are vivid, similes and metaphors are nailed with ease. Themes emerge quietly and then flower to illuminate the sense of the book … [A] romantic and enthralling story.'
'A polished and absorbing debut from a new talent in Australian fiction.'
'Assured from the first page and beautifully written with a light touch, Riccioni's engaging novel pits free spirits against the confines of a postwar English village.'
'[A] relaxing, light and entertaining read … A great companion on a commuter train or a long flight.'
Dr Karley Heyworth, Medical Observer