FALLING PALACE

A ROMANCE OF NAPLES

The author’s recollection of the love he found and left in Napoli, artfully told.

A reverie of Hofstadter’s days in Campania is evoked in vibrantly loving terms by the smitten reporter (The Love Affair as a Work of Art, 1996, etc.).

For every tourist to Naples, the view of the blue gulf shimmering in the sunshine, Vesuvius in the mist, may be unforgettable. But that’s not what this book is about. Somehow lodged under the rubric of nonfiction, this is no more a travel book about Naples than Death in Venice is a guide to the old city on the Adriatic lagoon. As Hofstadter’s subtitle suggests, it’s a romance with a felicitous setting and a characteristic supporting cast. In the background, there are the roaring Vespas and the busy piazzas, the tripe “dripping over the tripe altars,” the lotto-betting and the colorful native Neapolitans. There’s Donato, the wedding photographer; Luca, the hustler with his inflatable crèche; Michele and Salvatore, the geographers of subterranean Naples; Gigi, the stuttering actor; Gennaro, the radio soothsayer. Co-starring with the author, who takes the classic role of ex-pat writer, is mysterious, fetching Benedetta. The story he tells of their transitory reunion after a three-year hiatus is relayed with a cinematic attraction. Chapter headings (“The Letter,” “Signora Perna and the Other World,” “Benedetta in Springtime”) are redolent of his tale, which, in truth, fits somewhere in the literary twilight betwixt factual personal history and engaging fictive memory.

The author’s recollection of the love he found and left in Napoli, artfully told.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-41440-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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