This is the sequel to Bianca’s Vineyard, Teresa Neumann’s first novel, which told the history of the Bertozzis, the Tuscan family which she had married into. It is the story of Domenico Sacchelli, the husband of Bianca’s niece Mariella, whom the author met on her 2001 trip to Tuscany. It is also the story of Dolphus Geller, an aging German veteran of World War II who, for the past twenty summers, has rented a house from Domenico. Dolphus’ wife has passed away, and he has brought his granddaughter, Aarika, whom he has raised since she was a young girl. Also arriving is Aarika’s half sister Poppy from America, whom Aarika has never met. Poppy has been sent by her mother so that the mother can attain her own closure regarding the events that led her to abandon Aarika and return to America, where she originally came from, and Poppy, in turn, is hoping to reach her own realizations about her past. Both Domenico and Dolphus are still haunted by their wartime experiences. This is the story of how they all learn to confront their own particular demons, free themselves from the past, and find peace in the present.
Bianca’s Vineyard told of the secrets that had kept family members apart from one another, and showed how their revelation could lead to redemption and reconciliation. Domenico’s Table builds and expands on that theme, applying it across families and cultures, showing how even Italians, burdened by hatred of the Germans for wartime atrocities, and Germans, burdened by shame for those same atrocities, could come to confront the past without justification or blame and thereby become free of that past. If you have not read Bianca’s Vineyard, you should read that first. If you have read Bianca’s Vineyard, you should definitely read Domenico’s Table; it takes the themes of deliverance and reconciliation to a new level with a well-paced narrative that asserts the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
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