My review of Norumbega Park by Anthony Giardina ran today in the Boston Globe
It tells the story about a family in suburban Massachusetts who… well, they don’t do a whole lot. There’s angst, and plenty of sexual anxiety (though very little consummation). At first, the story seems to be about the father, Richie Palumbo, moving his family to an idyllic, New England small town in the hopes that they would become part of a more refined segment of society. It’s set up to be about the hopes he’s invested in this town, and a particular house he sets his sights on. And then Giardina jumps ahead to tell the rather banal stories of the two Palumbo children.
I was pulling for this book till about halfway through, when the daughter, Joan, is tempted away from her life as cloistered nun by an attractive young man who Giardina, apparently in a fit of ludicrous unsubtlety, named Angel. It was a real throw-the-book-across-the-room moment. Nevertheless, I stuck with the novel all the way to its sluggish, unsatisfying ending. There’s just no sense of humor in this book, and never any compelling reason to care about the dull, emotionally-stunted characters. It’s a weak melodrama, and a real chore.