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Only in Naples: Lessons in Food and Famiglia from My Italian Mother-in-Law Hardcover – 12 May 2016
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A glorious memoir celebrating the holy trinity of Italian life: love, food and family. Her keen eye and sense of humor takes you through the winding streets of Naples at a clip, on a ride you hope will never end. If you love Italy, or the idea of it, you will love this book. And, if you ever plan to visit Naples, tuck this in your suitcase, it's the best primer I've ever read as a guide to this bustling, vibrant southern Italian port city (Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of The Shoemaker's Wife)
Deliciously entertaining (Sunday Mirror)
This warm, witty biography made me yearn for (and eat) quite a lot of pasta (Red)
You won't be able to put down this book that's chock block full of titbits from Neapolitan culture, tradition and cuisine.Read if you enjoyed: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Hello)
A spellbinding journey into the heart of Neapolitan life.See all Product description
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Katherine is taken under the wing of Raffaella Avollone and on her first visit is introduced to her son Salvatore. This initial meeting is not auspicious and nearly falters very early on by Katherine's misunderstanding of the Italian equivalents of "see you later" and "speak soon" which she takes as an instruction and virtually stalks Salvatore with daily phone calls. It is revelations like this that not only emphasize Katherine's naivety, but are indicative of further humorous incidents that litter the book.
I liked Katherine and Salvatore, but I loved Rafaella. An archetypal Italian mother in many ways, she was also very progressive and accepting of Katherine, despite the many cultural and religious differences. A lesson that society as a whole could do well to learn. Her love is expressed through cooking and her food almost has it's own language, taking on qualities over and above it's
basic function of sustenance. I loved this aspect of the book, but not sure I'll be attempting the 5 hour ragu sauce, that is a labour of love above and beyond in my culinary repertoire.
What made this memoir more enjoyable for me, was that while it followed a timeline that started with Katherine's first visit to Naples and ended with marriage it wasn't a rigid this happened and then that happened. Instead Katherine chooses to pick out relevant events and moments to highlight her "journey" and absorption into her future family.
It's an easy read, told with love and humour. What it cleverly manages to do is almost instill in the reader a growing love of all things Neapolitan, note Neapolitan rather than Italian. What we often forget is that the country we recognise as Italy is relatively young. The Risorgimento, (meaning “Rising Again”), was a 19th-century movement for Italian unification that culminated in the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Consequently there are unique historical and cultural differences between the once nation states. What we get from this memoir is a strong sense of the culture and customs that pervade everyday life.
I suspect for someone wanting a deeper more analytical look into contemporary Neapolitan life, this might be too superficial, but for me the book "does what it says on the tin" (wonder how that translates outside the UK). It is one woman's look at her version of Naples as learned from her Mother-in-Law, it is for the most part lighthearted, heartwarming and filled with food and love - what's not to like?
I received a review copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Only in Naples is a love story. A true story. It is a book about finding a home and a family on the other side of the world.
The more I read, the more I fell under the spell of the Neapolitan culture. It was a pleasure to read about the lives and loves of Katherine, Salvatore and his family. It was also interesting to see how cultures compared, the differences often stark to a non native such as Katherine, who in turn often provoked incredulity with her Italian family when she told them of US customs.
The book is not only a memoir of a love affair but is in fact a tale of a love affair with a country and a society. And also a culinary love story. It becomes apparent that food plays a major role in the lives of Neapolitans. Emotions are expressed through what is made. The amount of love that goes into preparing a meal is seen in direct proportion to the love felt by those who make the food for those who consume it. Food is used as allegories, as tokens of affection and as non-verbal communication. It can show courtship, romance, customs, history, compassion or signal the break down in a relationship. It also means that you will inevitably be hungry when reading this book.
It also made me keen to visit Naples. Katherine Wilson’s obvious love for the city is evident in the book. The writing is engaging and animated. I could easily imagine the scenes depicted and the more I read, the more I wanted to visit.
Only in Naples is not just a travelogue or a memoir. It is a book about learning to live in another country, to speak another language and to find ways of bridging cultural barriers. It is told with gentle humour and an engaging style.
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