A Romance of Naples
By Dan Hofstadter
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375714283, 272pp.)
Publication Date: December 5, 2006
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A portrait of the sun-drenched volcanic city from an American who has lost his heart to the place and to a beguiling Neapolitan woman.
In Falling Palace Dan Hofstadter brilliantly reveals Naples, from the dilapidated architectural beauty to the irrepressible theater of everyday life. We witness the centuries-old festivals that regularly crowd the city’s jumbled streets, and eavesdrop on conversations that continue deep into the night. We browse the countless curio shops where treasures mingle with kitsch, and meet the locals he befriends. In and out of these encounters slips Benedetta, the object of the author’s affections, at once inviting and unfathomable. Weaving the tale of an elusive love together with a vivid portrayal of a legendary metropolis, this is a startling evocation of a magical place.
Dan Hofstadter has written four books. His last, The Love Affair as a Work of Art, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. He has written for most national magazines and was for eight years a regular contributor to The New Yorker.
“Beautiful . . . Outstanding . . . Hofstadter’s book–free of knowingness, charged with experience–is written with the ease of affection and discovery . . . It is a story of love–for an arcane city and for a girl, Benedetta, who embodies the Neapolitan enigma. The city prevails on every page . . . Hofstadter has penetrated the extended labyrinth, and his account of his explorations, literally breathtaking, is lyrical in the Neapolitan tradition.”
–Shirley Hazzard, The New York Times Book Review
“Lovely . . . Deeply felt . . . Those who know Naples and those who don’t will enjoy Hofstadter’s delicious descriptions of that unusual metropolis. [A] deft writer . . . He makes these people real and sympathetic to us . . . [He] succeeds wonderfully in conveying the city’s mix of poverty and splendor . . . It’s curiosity about Benedetta that will keep most readers turning these pages, but in the end, it’s Hofstadter’s feel for her city that satisfies most deeply.”
–Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor
“Secretive, shadowy and hot: what a lover Naples makes. Hofstadter gives a good sense of its spectral exuberance . . . Like Annie Hall, this is a tale of a fleeting romance looked back upon many years later . . . with the city as much a character, and object of his affections, as the woman.”
–Matt Weiland, Newsday
“Chilometri away from those sun-kissed, espresso-soaked travelogues . . . Hofstadter paints a warts-and-all portrait of both Benedetta and Naples, and the two are all the more alluring for their imperfections.”
–Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly