Title: Red Sails to CapriRed-Sails-to-Capri
Author: Ann Weil
Pages: 156
Recommended Ages: 10-14
Star Rating: ★★★★

An island paradise. A sleek sailboat with red sails. A mysterious cove. A charming Italian inn. A deadly secret that could shatter the tranquility of the idyllic Capri…. And seven adventurers who are determined to penetrate the secret!

The Story.

Michele Pagano leads a routine life serving guests in his father’s inn and helping his friend Angelo down at the docks. He explores his homeland Capri, both land and sea, and knows where the most beautiful views are to be discovered. He is a steady, reliable boy who longs to travel to grand cities and find exciting adventures. But perhaps he need not travel so far to experience peril…..

One day in winter (the least profitable season for hotel owners), while down at the docks, Michele sights a beautiful sailboat with red sails making for the island. Three strangers disembark. Angelo hastens to intercept them while Michele races off to alert his parents to the prospective business. After much flurrying about, the three men are installed at the hotel. Each of them has a very distinct character as Michele will quickly discover.

Lord Derby is an English painter who likes nothing better than to be dragged around the mountainous terrain of Capri chatting with Michele and painting what he sees. He is fairly easy-going but refuses to be crossed in one area – he must have two soft-boiled eggs every morning for breakfast. No exceptions are admitted.

Herre Nordstrom is a Danish philosopher. He is perfectly content to stay holed up in a chair reading and answering his own questions about truth and reality. He is a hesitant man and people sometimes forget that he is in the room.

The opposite is true of Monsieur Jacques. Monsieur Jacques is a laughing, joking Frenchman who gives life and spirit to the party. Using Michele as a navigator, he explores the coastline of Capri, chasing after fun and adventures. It is on one of these expeditions that Monsieur Jacques has the effrontery to suggest that they drop anchor in the cove. When Michele nervously demurs Monsieur Jacques persists, demanding an explanation for Michele’s evident reluctance. What Monsieur Jacques does not realize is that the superstitious people of Capri consider it to be bad luck to even speak of the cove, much less to enter it! Michele is able to evade the awkward questions by denying all knowledge of the cove and referring Monsieur Jacques to his father, but he is worried. Will Monsieur Jacques’s curiosity bring down bad luck on his father’s inn?

As it turns out, Monsieur Jacques seems to forget about the cove; at least, he does not mention it for several days. But just when Michele and his father think he has forgotten all about the cove, Monsieur Jacques springs his question on Signor Pagano: why is the cove so studiously avoided by the townspeople?

It takes two separate evenings of long conversations to tell all that is known about the cove. To avoid spoiling the story, I will simply mention that as a result of these conversations, Lord Derby, Monsieur Jacques, Herre Nordstrom, Angelo, and Signor Pagano decide to probe the mysteries of the cove. Will they persevere through every obstacle that is thrown in their way? Will they be killed as others before them? And if they do discover the truth of the cove, will they be able to convince the apprehensive townspeople with their claims?

 

 How do you think this picture ties into our story?

Discussion.

Every book has a strong point. Sometimes it is the plot, the location, or the time-frame. For this book, it was the characters. Each was charming after his own fashion, and idiosyncrasies abounded. I believe my favorite person in this story was Angelo with his quick jabs and witty repartees, but each character was special. I also enjoyed the fun blend of Italian words that were added to the dialogue.

After Signor Pagano and the others decide to take their trip to the cove, Signora Pagano refuses to cook or clean, thus signaling her disapproval. Despite her husband’s repeated injunctions to the contrary, she is adamant; if they persist in going she will not help them in any way. The Signora’s fears are understandable, but going on strike is not the way to express them! However, this would be a great place to discuss the proper way for a wife to submit to and influence her husband.

Many of the conversations between children and adults are conducted in a bantering tone. I found it more playful than disrespectful.

The expedition to the cove is made on a Sunday.

Pietro goes on the trip without asking his parents’ permission.

Conclusion. Red Sails to Capri isn’t a ‘must-have’ but it was a lot of fun to read. I loved the soft-boiled egg song. (You’ll have to read the book to understand that one!)

Review © 2012 Laura Verret

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