Read Household Saints by Francine Prose Online


Set in New York's Little Italy in the 1950s--a community closely knit by gossip and tradition--this is the story of an extraordinary family, the Santangelos. [Prose] writes equally well about sausages and saints, documenting the madness and the grace of God in everyday life.--Jean Strouse, Newsweek....

Title : Household Saints
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060507275
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 253 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Household Saints Reviews

  • Harriett Milnes
    2019-05-07 19:18

    Finishing Household Saints made me think about being brought up as a Catholic.

  • L
    2019-05-03 22:17

    I loved this for about 2/3 of the way through, 5 stars worth. And then came the daughter's story, which was deeply disturbing for me. That changed it all for me.

  • Tris
    2019-05-19 03:16

    Oh, I loved this book. It's one of those "go with it" books, when it's necessary to suspend belief (a la Alice Hoffman or Margot Livesey), but well worth it for the sake of the story. The descriptions of the characters and places that make up Little Italy in the 50s are beautifully rendered, and Francine Prose's dry humor plays perfectly. This was also a decent movie, which followed the book very closely.

  • Theodora
    2019-05-10 00:33

    "If Theresa had lived in another era, they might have called her a saint.""If they had lithium in Jesus' time," said Joseph, "there wouldn't have been any saints.""Joseph," said Catherine, "let's go.""If they'd had mental hospitals, they'd have had John the Baptist on occupational therapy."...just read this book. It validated my growing up-Catholic stories. Loved it!

  • Rae
    2019-04-27 02:17

    I honestly loved this book. It reminded me of my family and definitely depicted the Little Italy that I grew up hearing about from my mother and grandmother. From the food, to life at home, to arranged marriages and even Catholic superstition. This book was so descriptive.I see that many people didn't like the second half of the book, when Theresa becomes a saint. However, I did like it... I found myself wondering if she was crazy or actually seeing what she said she was seeing. My only complaint was how fast the book ended and how little her miracles were discussed after Theresa's death. In fact, the miracles are even made to sound like rumors.Besides that, this is a fantastic read and a great book to study with learning about American-Italian culture. I'll definitely be reading this again in the future.

  • Krystina Ramos
    2019-05-18 00:21

    The Winner Takes It All Household Saints features a butcher named Joseph Santangelo as one of its main characters. In regards to his gameplay at pinochle and business on Mulberry Street, Joseph does not live up to his namesake. He has an affinity for secretly collecting extra cards to get the upper hand against his playmates. He has a tendency of tipping the scales and cheating housewives when he is weighing their meat. Yet the women rarely complain due to his charm. Like Joseph, Francine Prose has a way with words. Her attention to detail and knack for vivid imagery offers an engaging narrative throughout the novel. However, I feel Prose tipped the scale on my meat and palmed some extra cards in handling Joseph’s daughter’s character.Against a backdrop of New York’s Little Italy from the 1950s to late 1960s, Household Saints is divided into two distinct, yet interwoven stories. The first part develops Santangelo’s relationship with his wife, Catherine, whom he won in a card game, and their marital struggles while his mother, Carmela, devotes herself to traditional Italian cooking, family interference, and unorthodox Catholic superstition. The second half slowly dwells on Joseph and Catherine’s daughter Theresa and her desperate attempts in following in the footsteps of her idols, Our Lady Fatima and The Little Flower St. Therese. Ironically, Prose observes Theresa’s devotion to Jesus by including minor interludes that highlight a disillusioned Nicky, Catherine’s brother, in search of an Asian bride in light of his favorite opera Madame Butterfly. Magical realism serves as a device to connect the two ideals- the Italian-American experience (modern) and Catholic mysticism (traditional)- that plague the parents and child in the respective halves of the novel.According to the synopsis on the back cover of Household Saints, “Theresa whose astonishing discovery of purpose moves the book.” Upon reading the novel for myself, I found that does not seem to be the case. The charming dynamic between Joseph, Catherine has a stronger captivating presence propelled by Prose’s focus on their cultural heritage, contemporary change, and home life. Amidst Carmela’s presence, the couple is forced to question their ethnic identity and conform to American social norms as years go on. The emphasis on cooking and roles in the domestic and social spheres provide a framework for Joseph and Catherine in which they exemplify the modern Italian-American couple as they navigate through the stages of newlyweds to parents. The third person omniscient perspective works really well for the first part of the novel’s realistic situations Joseph and Catherine are placed in. Alongside bits of dialogue and visual imagery, it lends an accessible introspective view to the characters that exhibits raw emotion and adds depth to the characters. For example, when Catherine endures post-partum depression and Joseph finds his marriage and business in a rut, the home exudes a distressing atmosphere as illustrated by dying plants and use of plosives in speech. Readers can empathize with their struggle to maintain an active sex life, a thriving business, and a healthy family.The lighthearted mood instantly shifts once the story focuses on Theresa. She matures from child to young woman with the same passion to become a saint, albeit varying levels of fanatical fervor. No matter how many metaphors and allusions Prose employs to convey Theresa’s poignant religious transformation, Theresa’s character remains detached and anything but saintly. The third person omniscient P.O.V. functions weakly for her character in which I felt like an outsider invading her detached, dysfunctional thoughts, as indicated by Prose’s own statement: “Her mind had not been empty so much as absent altogether.” The main problem is that she is an unsympathetic character in which I cannot understand, identify or sympathize with. She lies to her parents about attending school. She strives to perform routine chores in model of The Little Flower, or more like OCD rituals such as making sure her boyfriend did not sleep on the same pillow twice. Unfortunately, Theresa’s altruistic services to cook, clean, and have sex with her boyfriend seem selfish. These acts are for personal gain toward becoming a saint and avoiding His wrath rather than for noble cause.Prose, Francine. Household Saints. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1981.

  • Linda C.
    2019-05-23 19:09

    What better start to a story than, Joseph Santangelo, the butcher, wins his bride, Catherine Falconetti, in a pinochle game with her father and brother. During a heat wave, Joseph bets a walk into the meat freezer and Lino bets his daughter's hand. A bet is bet in the close knit Italian neighborhood in New York City. The next day Catherine is told to buy the best cut of meat and cook a meal for Joseph and his mother, an introduction of sorts. A cook, she was not, the meal a disaster, and Mrs. Santangelo leaves dismayed by the whole idea of this girl becoming her daughter-in-law. And so their married life began as an unlikely pair. They became the butcher who puts his finger on the scale for a few extra pennies and his wife, who spends her days under the watchful eye of her mother-in-law learning the fine art of sausage making. Soon, a daughter, Theresa, comes along and everything they thought they knew, changes. Theresa felt very early on that her calling was to the convent and to God and nothing her parents did could change her.I love Francine Prose for her beautiful writing and her quirky stories. I'm a big fan of Blue Angel, another novel by Prose which I've also written a review. The thing that always strikes me is her ability to write male characters so realistically. Joseph and Catherine's father, Lino pop off the page as if I was sitting beside them eaves dropping on their conversations. Catherine, Mrs. Santangelo and Theresa are equally as interesting but Ms. Prose is one of the few writers I know who can give each of the sexes equal footing as characters. What I learned from Household Saints is that all of us may feel we are living an ordinary life, but within each of us lives a little piece of God. Never underestimate the power of a good gossiping grapevine. And under every roof lives a saint. Who is the saint in your household?

  • Jan
    2019-04-26 19:05

    “They got caught in a traffic jam at the entrance to the bridge. Overhead lights illuminated the interior of the cab, and Joseph looked over at his family. Catherine was gazing out the window. Theresa was staring straight ahead, seeing God knows what in the headlights of the oncoming lane.Just one car, he caught himself thinking, just one car jumping over the center divider could settle their problems for good. He crossed himself, looked around for some wood to knock on, and thought how little it takes to turn your life around. One minute, you’re sitting on four aces. Your wife’s upstairs cooking, your daughter’s off at college, you’re making good money in the shop. The next minute, you’ve got a handful of deuces and threes, and you’re stuck in a cab coming back from a Brooklyn apartment where your daughter’s been shacking up with her pimply boyfriend and losing her mind. "I was captivated by the witty writing style, and I would've gladly given five stars but the plot just wasn't satisfying to me. I'll definitely be checking out more works from this author!

  • Sariah
    2019-05-10 01:17

    I loved the first 2/3 of this book and only liked that last 1/3. It's well-written, and I enjoyed the characters a lot, especially at the beginning. I loved how Joseph "won" Catherine in a card game (funny side note... my own NYC-born and raised, Italian Catholic grandfather supposedly won a bet from a card game and had to take my grandmother on a date...) and while she didn't want to get married to him, it turned out to be a happy and successful marriage. I cried at the still-born birth and cried as I read of her obvious PPD. I really loved all the stories of this couple, but once we started learning about their daughter, Theresa, I got frustrated. It's so hard to watch someone go absolutely crazy and there is nothing you can do. Even when it's a fictional character. Heart-wrenching for me. Anyway, I honestly didn't expect it all to end the way it did. So yes, it was enjoyable (mostly) and well-written and actually a pretty quick read.

  • Kathe
    2019-05-12 22:06

    This is a quiet little novel by the wonderfully named Francine Prose. I'd read an essay or two of hers, but none of her 16 novels before this one. What's it "about"? When the answer to that question isn't too facile, it's always a good sign. On the surface, it's about family and community and religion (Italian Catholics in New York City in the 1950s and '60s). Underneath, it's about day-to-day life and living with people you love but don't really understand. There's love and lust and fried sausage and crazed beliefs. Prose never hits her reader over the head. She lets us draw our own conclusions, which dawn slowly as she spins the story. I'm not going to go into the plot, which would sound simplistic. It's not. But you'll remember Catherine and Joseph and Theresa, and perhaps even miss them a little when you finish the book.

  • Kilian Metcalf
    2019-04-25 21:09

    I've heard the phrase 'limpid prose,' but until I read this book by the aptly-named writer, I really didn't know what it meant. Now I think I understand. Absolutely nothing gets in the way between the reader and the story. No distractions of awkward wording, no jarring images to pull the reader out of the book, no awareness of how clever the writer is. Just pure, instant transfer of story from writer to reader. I lost awareness that I was reading a book. I was living inside the story. I knew the basics from seeing the wonderful movie adaptation with Vincent D'onofrio and Tracy Ullman, so I knew I would like it. When the book turned up on one of my bargain book deals, I took a chance. Ms Prose doesn't need any boost from me, but she get my vote for one of the best writers I've ever read. She is a marvel.

  • Tamara
    2019-05-27 01:14

    A great story, and the prose is lovely, sentences flow with a consistent cadence. The style reminds me of a fable or a parable, and maybe that's the point, but I felt so held at arms' length from the characters that the unusual story and nice prose wasn't enough to keep me invested in the characters' tale. I never got to the point where I truly cared. I really wanted to, and hoped to know them better. Although, it was unfortunate that Nicky never found his Madame Butterfly, but became her. I liked the truth there. That was all that could have happened to this lost soul. The novel doesn't promise anything it doesn't deliver, I just wish it had promised more. For me, it could have been longer, the characters fleshed out, and it would have felt more dimensional.

  • Ben
    2019-04-29 00:34

    Pure storytelling. It deals with the mundane - work, love, family, religion - but never bogs down. Written in a style so clean and effortless you don't even notice it, and moving at breakneck pace, it careens through these things as though they're the stuff of adventure. And, of course, they are, to the extent that any of us ordinary folks have adventure in our lives. While the characters see miracles everywhere, this book pulls off a minor miracle of its own, which is to avoid being predictable, maudlin, or boring. It absorbs you in the lives of the Santangelos and then sends you on your way.

  • Christine
    2019-05-14 02:09

    What a last name for a writer! I enjoyed Prose's 2006 Reading Like a Writer, a thoughtful meditation on the craft of writing. I also tried to read her novel Blue Angel, but couldn't get into it. Household Saints was more engaging: the story of an Italian-American family in post-WWII New York. Prose elevates the trials and tribulations of a humble family to something approaching legend.Her style, though, is very dense, creating a sense (for me) of claustrophobia. And the ending was so disappointing that I was almost sure there must be a third section in the e-book.

  • Zoe
    2019-05-25 23:25

    This was a book group book. It took me two days to read and although at first I didn't like it, I did get pulled in after two of the main characters got married and had a happy sex life. I'd been steeling myself for their marriage to be awful and when it was beautiful, that made me happy, even when their daughter turned out to be a better saint than a human being. There was a good amount of description of Italian-American life, which reminded me of my own heritage and the stories my mother told about her childhood in an Italian-American section of the Bronx.

  • Suzanne
    2019-04-29 02:06

    Having married young into an Italian family, I enjoyed the immersion into the world of close knit, loving, battling families , tied by love, superstition and food. Joseph Santangelos wins his wife in a card game, and his luck changes forever. Though his mother fears the Evil Eye, Joe's daughter seems exceptionally blessed, even too blessed, some would say. A touching, life affirming story, bittersweet and of course, expertly written.

  • Rease
    2019-05-09 19:26

    The first sentence of this novel will certainly intrigue you to read more. The reason I am giving this book a 3 instead of 4 star rating is because I felt that sometimes the story was really interesting and kept me craving more, while at others it seemed leisurely. Overall, I enjoyed the characters and the story was pretty good, so I would recommend it but I wouldn't say it's the most riveting book I've read in a while.

  • Joni
    2019-05-13 22:19

    Loved the first three quarters of this book, a story of an Italian American family in New York's Little Italy in the 1950's. But the end of the book became very strange and distressing when Theresa Santangelo, the character of focus in the second half of the book becomes obsessed with Saint Theresa, "The Little Flower" while in parochial elementary school and is determined to join the Carmelite nuns despite her mother and father's protests.

  • Sybil Noss
    2019-05-08 22:25

    The author's writing is flawless and her characters came to life right from page one. I was 75% through and had been cruising along, enjoying the book and then... There was a few jolts and the ride began to sputter and jerk and I tried to hang on to the last page, hoping that it was going to be alright. When I finished, I had been shaken up and left wondering...Why?

  • Leonie
    2019-05-12 19:05

    I wanted to know more of the characters in this story and felt unfulfilled because of that. In part almost magical realism, a genre I've always struggled with. I drugged to find interest in the second half of the book as the story swerved away from Joseph and Katherine and began focusing on their daughter instead.

  • Janette
    2019-05-02 21:13

    I was interested to read this because I know the author. Set in Little Italy after WW2 through the 60s. Funny and comical in parts, Francine did her homework and captured the typical Italian mama of years ago. Lots of references to the Saints and superstitions common in Italian households. Some of the characters were strange as hell, but likeable.

  • Bianca
    2019-05-12 20:09

    This is a compact little novel that I've read twice in the last six months. It's about an Italian Catholic family whose daughter (truly, like myself any many Catholic girls I've known) believes she should grow up to be a nun or a saint. It's a really sweet tale, tall-tale style. Who's read more of Francine Prose's work?

  • Allison Shifman Chartier
    2019-05-10 21:24

    I really loved this. The writing was excellent, and the story really touched me. I am not a religious person, and don't have a Catholic bone in my body. Still, I found this story of everyday people rejecting, struggling with and sometimes finding grace completely moving. The books was just as funny as it was touching.

  • Susan
    2019-05-03 00:31

    I absolutely adore the film made from this book in 1993. Now that I have finally read the novel, I can see why the film is so deep and true and special--it's just like the book. I highly recommend this, and you don't even need a Catholic background to appreciate it. Anybody who's ever tried to be good can relate.

  • Susan
    2019-05-13 19:23

    I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book, but it kept me reading well into the night because it was interesting. Having extensive experience with Italians, Catholics, children, the pious, the crazies, it's hard to figure out just what it was about. Maybe all of them, but I couldn't really come to any conclusion about any of them.

  • Lauren Albert
    2019-04-28 22:30

    I really liked the story of the couple's "accidental" marriage and how it grew into more. It was a pretty straight-forward story of an Italian-American family--a pleasure to read. But the ambiguity at the end added something more to it.

  • Ray
    2019-05-14 20:26

    I'd call this a novella. The characters didn't seem fully formed but it was well written. There was a sadness to it they made it hard to keep reading. Not my favorite Francine Prose, but certainly adequate.

  • taryn
    2019-05-15 19:25

    An Italian family in the 50's dealing with their daughter's religious epiphany. This is also a great movie by Nancy Savoka with Lily Taylor and Tracy Ulman. It's in sync with the book almost shot for shot, so if you get lazy...

  • Suzan
    2019-05-09 23:16

    I thought the characters were well developed. I loved the setting, Little Italy in NYC. The plot was interesting. I think the author is really gifted. But, I don't think this is the book for me. I laughed several times and I didn't hate the book, I just didn't love it.

  • Marcy
    2019-05-18 00:23

    A total disappointment. Lots of good reviews on this one, but I don't get it. I found the story thin, the characters not engaging, and the whole thing downright boring. The only redeeming thing about this book for me was that it was an incredibly quick read.