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Italian Fever: A Novel Hardcover – 8 Jul 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; 1st Edition edition (8 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297848860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297848868
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.8 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,119,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A dark rendering of the 'American in Italy' story. (HARPERS & QUEEN (July))

Beautifully written. (EVE (August 2004))

Martin's writing works best in the detail...[She] captures the tragic humour of DV's funeral and acutely observes the petty manipulations of Massimo. She also creates a vivid sense of dislocation as Lucy is both physically frail and unable to understand the language and cultural norms of the world in which she finds herself. (Kath Murphy SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY (4.7.04))

Valerie Martin's ITALIAN FEVER is an absolute joy to read...[it] is part love story, part ghost story, and a wholly enjoyable and intelligent summer read...This is a wise, intelligent novel about how bad writers can suffer just as much for their art as good ones, and how true friendship is better than a thousand kisses. It should be enjoyed both in its own rights, and as a worthy addition to the growing line of Tuscan fictions. (Amanda Craig NEW STATESMAN (19.7.04))

acute and playful reading. (Sarah Dunant GUARDIAN (17.7.04))

Anyone who has ever had a foreign love affair will appreciate the subtlety with which Martin weaves her spell. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE (1.8.04))

Part love story, part murder mystery, part psychological study...Valerie Martin's familiarity with Italy is put to good use in her renditions of the Tuscan countryside and of Rome, but it is in her vivid descriptions of Gianlorenzo Bernini's sculpture, Apollo and Daphne, and Piero della Francesca's fresco of the Resurrection that her writing truly soars. Worth reading for those alone. (Penny Austin TIME OUT (11-18 August))

It makes for an interesting and thoughtful read. (SUFFOLK FREE PRESS (29.8.04))

A sensual, intelligent, engaging book - a modern EM Forster. (SKY TEXT)

lighthearted...inquisitive and...joyfully irreverent. (Alberto Manguel THE SPECTATOR (18/25 December 2004))

Book Description

First UK publication of earlier novel by author of PROPERTY, winner of the 2003 Orange Prize.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you love Italy, romance, mystery or good writing, you won't like this book. The critics must have read a different book than I did. Let me offer a contrast between their views and mine: Theirs - "A rich Italian tapestry of a novel." Mine - "A threadbare story written in shades of beige." Theirs - "Smart, taut tale." Mine - "Simple, unadorned writing." Theirs - "Funny, insightful tale of an American abroad." Mine - "Disconnected, shallow tale of a stereo-typical American woman in her 30's." Theirs - "Seamless narrative, remind[ing] us of the power of art to alter our lives." Mine - "A valiant but unsuccessful attempt to weave art and travel into an uninspired story." Theirs - "A pleasure that sticks to and tickles the ribs." Mine - "A light, facile read that will be forgotten before week's end."
I really wanted to like this book. There just wasn't anything in it for me to enjoy. It certainly isn't a bad book. But it isn't a good one either.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
For the past five years, Lucy Stark has worked as an assistant to the popular author DV. After proofing and typing five novels, she knows that he writes the same story every time though he uses different settings. This time the setting is Italy. However, the ending is different as the American embassy in Rome calls Lucy to inform her that her employer is dead after falling down a well on property owned by the Cini family. Lucy flies to Italy to insure the proper burial of her former boss.
In Tuscany, Lucy tries to see the body, but runs into official and unofficial resistance. She also learns that DV's last lover, Catherine Bultman apparently left him a few days earlier, but no one seems to know where she is. Lucy becomes ill even as she continues her inquiries. The Cini clan refuses to cooperate, hiding behind an aristocratic contempt of the Brooklyn native. Then there is the complication falling in love with her cooperative host Massimo Compitelli. Throw in a few meddling ghosts and efforts to learn the truth seems stuck behind the delirium caused by her fever.
ITALIAN FEVER is an intelligent, energetic, and often humorous romantic tale that fans of contemporary romantic suspense and gothic novels will fully enjoy. The story line is entertaining as readers will feel Valerie Martin's energy and enthusiasm for the plot. The characters are intriguing especially the many dysfunctional relationships that Lucy seems to smash up against in her endeavors. Add in a pinch of iconography, Italian food, and a bit of satirical shots at best selling hacks, and the audience is left with a wonderfully intelligent novel.

Harriet Klausner
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Aug. 1999
Format: Hardcover
I cannot dismiss it altogether. What I picked up from the bookis her satiric writing and that Lucy Stark is similar to the heroine in Austen's "Northanger Abbey" who having read one too many Gothic novels lets her romantic imagination run away with her. Similarly, Lucy is somewhat of a fool (not a cliche of a woman in her 30s. What exactly is that anyway?) who allows herself to be taken in by all her cliche notions of Italy and Italian men. How can anyone take seriously her head-over-heels, schoolgirl infatuation with Massimo? She never once thinks about the consequences of her adulterous affair although she is fully aware of his wife and children. And she quickly becomes impatient and jealous when she thinks he is also carrying on with the beguiling artist Catherine. The only truly unfortunate element of this story is its flimsy, pseudo-gothic, mystery story element. What began as a teasing story of foul play and an estate haunted by the ghost of murdered WWII Italian partisan quickly fizzles and is forgotten among the trappings of Martin's subtle send-up of all things Harlequinesque. The sequence with Lucy's horrendously detailed food poisoning complete with hallucinations and a bit later the section where she locks herself out of the farmhouse and has to seek shelter in a brewing windy storm are perfect examples of what could have made for a true modern day Gothic novel. So many writers today haven't a clue what constitutes a Gothic novel in its classic from. One need only look at the first ten chapters of "Italian Fever" for a primer in excellent use of classic Gothic mood, description and setting. I only wish there were more throughout the entire novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
What suprized me more than anything was how elegantly and vividly written this book was. Martin's description of Tuscanny was completely real, reading the book is like taking a vacation. And I have to confess, it's truly wonderful to read an intelligent novel, especially when the only summer alternative is movies like the Matrix and Wild Wild West.
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By lily mandolin on 17 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback
If the the tale of how a stupid, boring protagonist and the ridiculous way she sets about discovering how her sad, boring employer died, and how she suffered a prolonged bilious attack (with accompanying prolonged descriptions)while doing so is your idea of literary writing, then read this book.

If it's not, then even speed-reading it will be a chore. You won't even care when the reason for the sad, boring man's death is finally revealed. Well, I certainly didn't.

I see that amongst this author's other books is one entitled A Recent Martyr. Sorry, but I know the feeling.
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