What I'm Reading: Potter Hill, Albert M. Parillo ’56

Author: Kerry Temple ’74

So there’s this thing that happened, and it seemed so right at the time, the natural flowering of life and love, a moment meant to be. But that was then, and this is now. And the repercussions of that one private, intimate moment are about to have devastating impacts on you, the life you have built and everyone you love.


That’s the seductive vortex created by Albert M. Parillo ’56 in his second novel, Potter Hill, self-published in July 2017. His first, Giuliana’s Way, came out in 2014.

At the center of the action is Christopher Fiore, a struggling graduate student who is his parents’ pride and joy — the beneficiary of their lifetimes’ hard work and loving care. And his life and dreams and career aspirations reflect the quality and virtue of his parents’ values and goodness.

That quality and goodness are also recognized by the Binghams, wealthy, powerful inhabitants of a mansion in western New Jersey. Avery and his wife, Samantha, have seen in young Chris Fiore the character and compassion that would make him an ideal teacher, coach and mentor to their physically disabled son, Andrew.

So Fiore accepts the Binghams’ invitation to live on their property and see what help he may be able to offer Andy, to get him acclimated to a more normal life and perhaps assimilate into a routine that provides a healthier social and educational arrangement than his parents now provide.

What Fiore learns as he helps Andy along is that the beautiful Samantha, her husband’s second wife and much younger than Avery, is estranged from the prominent businessman. And she finds in the young student of the Italian artist Caravaggio an interesting conversationalist, a caring human being and a companion attracted to her magnetic beauty and grace.

As the dynamics of these relationships unfold, world events alter the psychological landscape, characters find new and enticing directions to pursue, the Binghams’ daughter, Jessica, becomes more centrally involved in the narrative, a fortuneless family enters the picture, a Catholic priest makes his own impact . . . and a surprise interloper threatens to bring down the lives so lovingly intertwined.

Parillo writes with clarity and purpose, with sensitivity and knowledge of humanity, of human failings and redemptive powers, as well as of the forces, desires, goodness and ideals we all carry around inside of us.

Kerry Temple is editor of this magazine.