Reviews – Emilia



A Luminous & Insightful Third Novel in the Family Portrait Series

Christa Polkinhorn’s new novel, EMILIA, is hard to put down and impossible to forget. This nuanced book about a tight-knit family in conflict unfolds in interweaving chapters, narrated by four characters: the painter Karla Bocelli, her stonemason-husband Andreas O’Reilly, their son Tonio, and their daughter Laura. It’s a storytelling technique that lends texture and variety, and in scene after scene Polkinhorn offers a complex portrait of midlife marriage and parenting, adult temptation, childhood yearning, and young love. Yet while the author portrays these universal subjects with warmth, sensitivity, and an eye for the telling detail, she never lets the plot become sentimental or predictable. The action is set in picturesque small towns in Switzerland, Italy, and Peru with a charming side trip to Paris, allowing the author to create a feast for the senses, and though EMILIA is the third volume in Polkinhorn’s Family Portrait trilogy, the book stands firmly on its own. EMILIA offers characters to root for and cherish, and I heartily recommend this luminous and ultimately hopeful novel. (Susan Dormady Eisenberg, USA)

Open a bottle of Prosecco

Christa Polkinhorn’s Family Portrait trilogy follows her character Karla Bocelli from childhood to middle-age. In EMILIA, we meet again Karla and her husband, Andreas, and their children, Laura and Tonio, and we’re introduced to a new addition to the family. With the stresses of modern family life, an unplanned pregnancy can be both a curse and a blessing, double that when it occurs late in a marriage. Though love is strong in the Bocelli/O’Reilly family, when tested, as it is several times in this book, will it weaken or become stronger?

I wanted to shake or smack certain characters a few times. I also wanted to kiss and hug them. Which is to say, Polkinhorn creates characters so alive that by the time you finish reading EMILIA you’ll feel certain you could travel to the Maggia Valley and share a meal with them … and a glass of Prosecco. And as usual, we’re treated to vivid descriptions of the sights in Switzerland, Italy, and Peru, with a side trip to Paris, France this time.

EMILIA is a fine way to pass a few pleasurable hours. (Linda Cassidy Lewis, CA, USA)

Emilia completes the Family Portrait

In the final book of her Family Portrait trilogy, author Christa Polkinhorn once again
placed me in the Swiss countryside and through her wonderful descriptions quickly
carried me back to locations from Europe to Peru. Karla and Andreas had become
successful while raising their two children. Daughter Laura was training to work with stone
like her father while her brother Tonio, blessed with his mother’s talent for drawing
and painting was studying fashion design. This was not his father’s first choice for
him but he was doing well in school. The family was well settled and then came the
surprise. Karla found herself pregnant and in shock with emotions racing through
her from joy to the unbelievable realization she would be forty-six when the baby
came. Enter Emilia. Would the dainty little girl drive a wedge between her parents or
become the glue that would bind their fracturing relationship?

Christa has successfully tied her three books together to a final, satisfying conclusion.
I believe those who have read an Uncommon Family and Love of a Stonemason will
agree with me. “Emilia” also works well as an enjoyable stand alone novel.

Elizabeth E Wilder, author
The Spruce Gum Box
Granite Hearts