Molto Grande


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
745 Pages
Reviewed on 02/21/2021
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Author Biography

Molto Grande is my third novel and first to venture fully into historical fiction. Many years ago, I read an article in a small, local paper about Europe's castrati, the first true international celebrities. Some years later, I read about a governmental action in France, whereby a Roma (Gypsy) camp was being destroyed by local authorities. It occurred to me: What if a novel set in late 1600s Europe, an era of enormous castrati fame and unceasing Roma persecution, could combine the disparate paths of two brothers, one enduring the challenges of becoming a castrato, and the other facing a danger-fraught life within a Roma band? The result, 221,000 words later: Molto Grande.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Steven Robson for Readers' Favorite

Molto Grande by Dick Franklin, as the name suggests, is a very big adventure into a life far removed from our perception by the passage of time; twin journeys of two young Italian brothers, originating from a small village called Little Ariccia in the year 1693. Vast in scale, this is truly an epic experience of discovery, where the circle of life unfolds before thirteen-year-old Luca Giordano and his twelve-year-old brother Nicolo, as they become separated through the disparity of age and are swept across Europe by the tides of human influence. In a time of great unrest, where oppression of human rights is common, and brutality, poverty, and despair are constant companions to many, what shines beyond all of the darkness is the power of love. Love that will drive both young men to a future that will shock their senses and leave them in speechless wonder at just how amazing life can be, as they complete their own circle in life’s passing existence.

Dick Franklin, in Molto Grande, has created a masterpiece of entertainment on an incredible scale. The way Mr. Franklin weaves the plot through famous places and historical personalities is quite deft, and the net effect is to immerse you in a period in history full of unprecedented dangers and awe-inspiring wonders. The characters are built superbly and definitely grab the reader’s empathy, enabling all of the emotions to play out through their experiences; there are many moments when tissues may be required. What is even more impressive are the subtle and surprising twists that unfold for the reader, but remain hidden from the main players, as they are propelled to shocking revelations that you know will lead to a dynamic and explosive climax. I loved so much about this book, but possibly the most astounding aspect of all is that there were so many wonderful characters brought to life; real personalities from which I would find it extremely difficult to name a favorite. This is the quality of Molto Grande.

K.C. Finn

Molto Grande is a work of fiction in the historical fiction, adventure and family saga sub genres, and was penned by author Dick Franklin. The work is intended for the adult reading audience and develops into an epic historical storyline spanning the life stories of two very different brothers. Our protagonists are Nicolo and Luca, who both begin life in an Italian family where plague and poverty force them to seek their own fortunes in this world. As Nicolo sets out for the church to become a castrato and hopefully be celebrated for his singing, older brother Luca survives a wildfire with a terrible disfigurement, but this leads him into the bosom of a Roma family where he too may find a future. As these epic stories unfold, fate has plans to bring the brothers back together in surprising and devastating ways.

Author Dick Franklin has crafted an engrossing and highly atmospheric work of fiction perfectly pitched at the turn of the seventeenth century, with plenty of detail, drama and self-discovery to offer its readers. There’s so much to say in a work of this size and quality that it’s hard to know where to begin. For me personally, the character development and intricate, intelligent portrayal of the two lead males was masterfully done. A whole range of emotions, trials and triumphs from life are accurately portrayed in their historical context, but also conveyed in an emotive narrative style that allows modern readers to relate to both Nicolo and Luca. I also really appreciated the research that went into the culture and behaviours of the time, and how the political and geographical elements came into the story later on as the world around the protagonists grew larger and more dangerous. Overall, I would highly recommend Molto Grande to fans of immersive historical storytelling, detailed and well-researched fiction, and for emotive personal drama fans everywhere.

Grant Leishman

Molto Grande by Dick Franklin is a soaring, wide-sweeping novel set at the height of the European Renaissance, that traverses Italy, France, and Spain. Nicolo and Luca Giordano’s family has been ravaged by the plague sweeping across Europe in 1693. Living in a tiny village near Rome, the two young boys have lost their mother and five siblings to the deadly scourge. Left to tend the vines in their small vineyard they lease from the Count are just their father and themselves. The two boys are “discovered” singing in the parish church by an emissary from Rome, seeking young voices to turn into world-class castrato singers at the Rome Conservatoire. Prior to the boys’ departure for Rome, Luca’s voice begins to break and he is rejected as a possible castrato. Alone and lost, young Nicolo heads for the Rome Conservatoire and dreams of possible future fame and stardom as a great singer. For Luca and his father, tending the vines by themselves will be nigh on impossible and when an out-of-control burn-off kills Luca’s father and badly burns Luca, it appears all is lost for the family. Rescued from a well and nursed back to health by a passing band of Romani, Luca begins his new life as part of a wandering itinerant band, a journey that will take them across France and ultimately to an apparent sanctuary near Madrid, Spain. Also headed eventually to Madrid will be Nicolo, now a renowned castrato who some say will be the greatest of all time. Will the brothers' paths ultimately cross again and will the reunion be filled with joy or fraught with danger?

Molto Grande is one of those stories that can initially appear intimidating. It is a massive, sweeping work but the question is – was I ever bored at any time, reading it? The answer to that question is a resounding no! Author Dick Franklin has succeeded in telling two disparate and linked story arcs about two young men seeking fulfillment and happiness in a harsh, unforgiving seventeenth-century world and telling it beautifully. I was captivated by the stark differences between the lives of the aristocracy and the favored few when compared to the hand-to-mouth existence of the poor serfs and peasants. The two main characters were beautifully rounded and filled out as the story progressed. We watch them both come to manhood, wrestle with some great moral issues, and ultimately make decisions based on the collective good, be that the tribe, the country, or the boys’ companions. The serendipities that abounded in this story are the key to its success. As Luca and Nicolo roamed the European countryside, they were constantly coming into contact with people who were linked in some way to both the boys’ lives. This ensured a wonderful continuity and balance to the two story arcs. A historical novel that teaches us something about a world we knew little of before is a large part of the key to a successful tale. The music which was such a key element of the Renaissance is also a major part of this tale. My knowledge of it and of the European geopolitical history of the time was in many ways a side revelation to the compelling story of these two boys. I absolutely adored this book and this author’s creative mind. I will definitely be looking for more from him and cannot recommend this book highly enough.