By Megan Harlan
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:53 AM EDT

The Black Madonna

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  • Book
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Episode Recaps

A native of Manhattan’s Little Italy, entertainment reporter Ermelino (at IN STYLE) centers her tangy novel on a Spring Street tenement stoop in the mid-20th century — back when the belief in miracles, malocchio (the evil eye), and Madonna figurines reigned supreme. And as three comic, interlocking stories tell it, Italian- American mamas — not Mafia dons — ruled the neighborhood: Teresa raises hell to finance an operation for her son Nicky, who was paralyzed while playing Tarzan on a fire escape; beautiful, Neapolitan Magdalena casts old-world spells on her new-world husband; and Antoinette outrages the furies when her coddled son abruptly marries a nice suburban Jewish girl. Though the foodie-magic-realist touches feel stale, Ermelino’s frisky, old-fashioned storytelling in The Black Madonna possesses timeless appeal.

The Black Madonna

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