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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
I was completely engrossed in this book. The descriptions of mouthwatering food, scintillating sex and honest to goodness naivety were refreshing. The bravery, stubborness and humiliation of the characters were blended together as well as the pasta sauces described throughout. The factual information was enough to ensure that the picture I was left with was one of how...
Published on 9 April 2007 by A. M. Allen

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this
It probably helped I was reading it whilst I was in Naples, where it is set, and I thought it was good at describing the physical environment and creating the atmosphere. Interesting information about the late stages of the war in Italy and the 1944 eruption, although some of this felt 'outside' of the storyline and a bit tacked on at times. Has some humour as well...
Published on 14 Oct 2011 by LeanneH


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 9 April 2007
By 
A. M. Allen (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Paperback)
I was completely engrossed in this book. The descriptions of mouthwatering food, scintillating sex and honest to goodness naivety were refreshing. The bravery, stubborness and humiliation of the characters were blended together as well as the pasta sauces described throughout. The factual information was enough to ensure that the picture I was left with was one of how awful those times were but equally how determined everyone was to ensure a better future for themselves. Pity I got to the end, I was happy to keep reading!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Right Ingredients for a Great Book, 5 April 2007
By 
C. L. Butler (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Hardcover)
I was recently searching the shelves of my local bookstore looking for a book with all my favourite ingredients - A mixture of World War 2, Italy and of course a generous helping of romance. The Wedding Officer was exactly what I was looking for.

Although I have never been to Naples I was married in Tuscany 3 years ago and have had a love affair with Italy ever since. The vivid description of its people, landscape and amazing food in the book brought back all the memories I have of the place and I felt almost home sick, desperate to go back!

I also fell in love with the story between James and Livia and really felt the connection between them. I only wish I could speak Italian the way that James can!

As a big fan of war stories I was really intrigued by the description of wartime Naples and the people's experiences. I also enjoyed the closeness to history which was obviously researched so carefully.

I only hope that the film planned for next year will do the book justice and that they carefully choose the Italian Livia and English James of the big screen.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anthony Capella just got better, 21 April 2006
By 
Ian Wylie - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Hardcover)
Anthony Capella burst on the summer book market last year with his retelling of the Cyrano de Bergerac story, 'The Food of Love'. Now, in a delightful tale that mixes fact and fiction, Capella has moved the setting from modern-day Rome to Naples in the latter years of the Second World War. Understandably the story is darker than the first novel, but the narrative still brilliantly conveys the warmth and passion of Italy, the beauty of the countryside around Vesuvius, and of course the joy of Italian food, both in feast and famine. The author has also researched his subject. The big adventure that took away the romantic young men of Mussolini's Italy turns into the nightmare of war, and starvation and humiliation for the women of Naples. With even-handed portrayals of Allied and German troops and penetrating observations of what people will do simply to survive, Capella mines his subject skillfully. But in the end this is a fine love story from a very fine storyteller.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely romance with a bit of tasty food too!, 27 Mar 2007
By 
L. Hogan (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Paperback)
In parts, this is a lovely light read; the story of the lovers who get together despite themselves is one told again and again. It is the setting: Naples just after it has been liberated from the Nazis and the circumstances that set this novel apart. The main characters are beautifully drawn and you get a real sense of place and time from many of the details in the book. The food is of course lovingly described and there is enough comedy to make you laugh and smile. Many of the secondary characters are quite cartoonish and one dimensional: the evil mafioso who uses his position to blackmail our heroine, the barman who knows everything that is going on, the prostitute with the heart of gold. But this doesnt take away from the story at all.

The book has a dark edge to it too. How could any book set during war not have? While the author doesnt dwell on the war, it is ever present, as are the injustices and atrocites comitied during times of war by both sides. Apparently many of the scenarios used by the author come from real memoirs and diaries of soliders stationed in Naples in the mid fourties and this certainly addds to the credibility of some of the more hare-brained schemes for defeating the enemy that crop up!

If you like romance, food or Italy this this is definetly a book you will enjoy
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read that leaves you wondering what will happen next, 8 April 2007
This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Paperback)
When i first strated reading the wedding officer, i thought i really wouldn't get into it, and if i did the storyline would be just as predictable as most books of this nature. However, i was very very wrong.

The book holds your imagination and what happens in it is never at all expected until it happens when you think back and realise all the clues were there building up to it. Not only that, but it gives you more of an insight as to the conditions people had to live in during the second world war in italy.

I strongly suggest you should try reading this book no matter what reading material you normally read, as it is a book i think that will appeal to anybody as it covers such a wide range of genres.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Cappuccino!, 15 Jan 2008
By 
C. Calisgil "Leyla" (Somerset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Paperback)
This novel is a must for lovers of Italy! A frothy Cappuccino, with several shots of strong Espresso; a wonderful blend of love, war, food and the strength of the human spirit. A young British officer, James Gould arrives in Naples in 1943 with the job of vetting all applications for marriage between local girls and British personnel. The majority of the matches are totally unsuitable and the very 'upright' James intends to do everything by the rule book. But .... this is Italy, and Italy has a way of changing people's perspectives; rules are made to be broken, and what happens when the Wedding Officer himself falls in love! This is all set against the background of occupation, with the Germans now occupying the North, whilst the British and Americans push from the South. We're given a strong flavour of the fighting during the 1944 Anzio Campaign, and an insight into the role played by the Italian Partisans. As if that wasn't enough, we have the dreadful fury of nature - the 1944 eruption of Vesuvius. The British and American soldiers carried out a relief operation that no doubt lessened the human devastation resulting from the eruption. The reader goes on a very personal journey with James, and is rewarded by a very satisfactory finale!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy summer read, 10 April 2007
This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Paperback)
We really enjoyed reading this just after a trip to Naples which included a visit to Vesuvius; the book gives a feelng of what it must have been like during the 1944 eruption and seems well researched. A volcano, some Italian dialogue, mild erotica and descriptions of Italian cooking which make the mouth water (the cooking that is!); what more could an Italophile desire. Perfect page turner for the hols; preferably somewhere warm and boot shaped. We'll go back and read Anthony's "The Food of Love" as Livia would say; "l'appetito viene mangiando".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, poignant and mouthwatering..., 23 Aug 2010
By 
C. Magowan (N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Paperback)
A most beautiful book, and Anthony Capellas best, which I initially read shortly after my first trip to Italy. For me no book since has so successfully managed to catch the flavour of Italian food and life to which I have happily become accustomed.

My father and I have very different reading tastes, I love romance and he is keen on historical fact, but on begging him to read this (and ultimately placing it in his hands on a flight to Rome) he also fell for its charms, and now trusts my recommendations! It has been passed around the whole family and noones disagrees. He has since read and believes this is based on 'Naples '44: A World War II Diary of Occupied Italy'.

For me is has the same spirit as 'Captain Corellis Mandolin' without the 'sticky' bits of war history which the boys in my family loved but I struggled through. In contrast there is no interruption to the the flow of Capellas prose, while remaining true to the history, policy and horrors of war.

Never have I read such mouthwatering accounts of food, and never before have I so believed in love. I have been encouraged to find the best of Italy, and on a cold winters night in Ireland I can be transported to the warmth of Italian life.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves food, history, Italy, love or life. I recommend it to everyone, everywhere I go. I cannot imagine anyone not loving it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wish it was all so good, 3 Jun 2009
By 
BookBliss (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Paperback)
The Wedding Officer is not a book that can easily be categorised. It would seem to fall into the category of historical romance, however, that does not convey the book appropriately and makes it sound far more staid than it actually is. Getting straight to the point, on the whole, I really enjoyed this book, it was quite different from anything I've read recently; it has far more substance than anything which is traditionally considered chick lit while still predominantly being a love story.

I think it veers from the chick lit genre by having the main character as James, the wedding officer of the title, who is an English Officer that has been stationed in Italy during WWII. He is a good man who will stick to the rules and who is rather naïve. Livia is sent by the locals to keep an eye on him and to educate him in the ways of Italy. Although James and Livia are the main characters in this book, everything actually centres around the food that is so lovingly prepared by Livia. This food is described in such perfect detail that you could almost taste it, my mouth was watering and it made me want to up sticks and go straight to Italy to try it for myself.

The majority of this book is very character driven, I felt completely drawn into the world of James and Livia and deeply cared about what happened to them. However, this all falls apart towards the end of the book with most of the story centring around the action of WWII and showing a complete change in Livia's character which I found hard to come to terms with as a reader as it didn't ring true. I felt like a story had originally been written and then the author was told that more action needed to be added so the book was butchered to include these scenes.

If the final section of the book had been as warm and eloquent as the rest then this would have easily got 5 stars, however, I found the end of the book a struggle to read which was a disappointment after the beginning where I'd been completely engrossed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, 20 Jan 2009
By 
Dinah85 "Dinah93" (Cleveland,UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Wedding Officer (Paperback)
`The Wedding Officer' appears at first glance to be a culinary historical romance, along the lines of Joanne Harris' `Chocolat'. `The Wedding Officer' is set in and around Naples during the second world war. James Gould, an officer in the British Army is assigned to Naples to vet the fiancées of soldiers. He arrives to find a city corrupt, with a thriving black market, bribery commonplace, and where almost half the female population are working as prostitutes. James sets about in a very bumbling, British manner to stamp out this inequity, and to clean up the streets of Naples.

As one might expect, his initial attempts at closing down the black market are somewhat unsuccessful. Equally almost every fiancée he meets is deemed unsuitable, as they are almost exclusively working on the streets. The history of Naples at this period is well researched, and cleverly integrated into the book. I found the young women's plight shocking, that almost all young women were forced to support themselves in this way to avoid starvation, as so many places of work were destroyed in air raids, or closed down following the German withdrawal from the area.

The history was well researched, and the first three sections of the book were informative while still focussing on the story of James and Livia, and James' struggles with the underground and restoring peace to Italy. The climate and scenery is well depicted, and the atmosphere of life on the slopes of Vesuvius is gloriously painted. Livia describes how she would rather live each day in such a dangerous place because of the hope and enthusiasm it gives her, than to move somewhere lesser and only live a half life. This is said in a beautiful manner, and the book overall enforces a love of life.

At the start of the book James meets the officer he will be replacing, while a likeable chap, James is horrified at how readily he has accepted the Neapolitan way of doing things, and decides to conduct his affairs in a more incorruptible way, removing the tin of bribes from the cupboard, and not succumbing to the advances of the fiancées, many of whom try to influence his report with an envelope of lire or sexual promises. However the change in James is remarkable throughout the book, while the author loosely relates it to his heart softening as he himself falls in love, I found it more that James became worldly and lost much of his naiveté about how society should work as he asserted his place within it.

James is a very well written character, utterly believable without being stereotypical. He is flawed, but he tries his best and is a good, honest man. James remains constant throughout the novel, dependable, but underneath always romantic. Almost all of the dialogue on feelings comes from James' perspective rather than Livia, who is more sexually confident. This is unfortunate in many ways, as Livia seems to have stumbled into this relationship and not be truly as committed as she was to her husband. The author writes of her overwhelming love for Enzo, despite him not being portrayed as the nicest of people. Livia is first brought to be James' chef as a way of controlling him, however the reasoning behind this is not fully explored, and nothing seems to be made of this later.

The character of Livia is in some ways as thorough as James, but in others lacking. She is written as being quite a typical Italian woman, hot headed and passionate, but also intelligent. Livia is more divided than James, having several priorities, and having experienced a lot of hardship during the war. She is also being pursued by a scary, underworld character who seeks to make her his through any means nessisary. The passages where she is cooking are beautifully constructed, and it is easy to believe her persona is based upon a real person, who the author greatly admires and loves. The author clearly has a love of food, and this pleasure draws the whole book together. All the important incidents in the book relate in some way to food, and it is this love of cookery as much as the love between Livia and James that binds the story together.

Despite the title of the book, James' role as the wedding officer is only a small part of the storyline. The book is much richer than the blurb would have you believe, and while not a difficult read, is very informative. This is at it's core, a historical romance, however I do not think this could fall into the genre of `chick lit' by any imagination. The cover would suggest a staid romance that might appeal to mature ladies, however I think this is a let down, and enforces the adage never to judge a book by the cover, as many of the encounters between James and Livia are decidedly racy.

The book is divided into 4 sections, the first three flow seamlessly together and create a rounded, well structured novel. However the final section seems very separate from the rest of the book, extremely heavy in action and lacking in emotion. The beautiful language that characterised the rest of the book is quite absent here. While factually this section of the book is as accurate as the others, I found it quite disjointed. The character of Livia also seemed lessened in this section, becoming politically active, something we saw no sign of earlier in the book, and distant from the loving, caring person we had previously seen. As cookery so defined Livia throughout the rest of the book, it seems strange that for no real reason she has abandoned that passion to become a politician, a much colder, more structured role.

I very much enjoyed this book, however the final section was a let down. I felt that the last section of the book could have been structured into a book in itself, and let the story of James and Livia stay clear. This is an immensely enjoyable read, with good sub plots, believable characters and stunning, evocative language that has you almost tasting the food, and smelling the olive groves outside.
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The Wedding Officer
The Wedding Officer by Anthony Capella (Paperback - 5 Mar 2007)
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