Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Only in Naples by Katherine Wilson

From the publisher: Full of lighthearted humor, sumptuous food, the wisdom of an Italian mother-in-law, and all the atmosphere of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, this warm and witty memoir follows American-born Katherine Wilson on her adventures abroad. Thanks to a surprising romance—and a spirited woman who teaches her to laugh, to seize joy, and to love—a three-month rite of passage in Naples turns into a permanent embrace of this boisterous city on the Mediterranean.

I'm not really a foodie or a big reader of memoirs, but I visited Naples last fall and was intrigued by this book. I had to read it when I received an advance reader copy.

I enjoyed the insight into Naples and Neapolitans. Although I think some of the customs have relaxed since the author first arrived in Naples - Halloween seems fully entrenched in Italy, for example - much is still valid. When I was packing for my trip and asked my Neapolitan friend for advice, she told me that no one in Italy wears capri pants, and indeed I saw none on my visit. (They do wear Daisy Duke shorts with nylons, however, go figure.) My hostess mamma, my friend's mother, is in her 70s and always had perfect makeup and hair. In fact, I imagined her when reading about the author's mother-in-law. And the TV shows! Oh, the TV shows! Those haven't changed.

The level of detail about the author's life in Italy, the making of Italian food, and the family relationships was a little too detailed for my tastes, but I imagine lovers of this kind of book will eat it all up, so to speak. I definitely recommend Only in Naples to lovers of foodie memoirs and books about colorful families and to Italians of all nationalities.

One thing Only in Naples definitely did was make me want to return to Naples! I read an advance reader copy of Only in Naples. It will be available for checkout at the Galesburg Public Library after April 19.

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