Siracusa Paperback – 4 May 2017
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‘A seductive take on marital betrayal…. the secrets and lies at the heart of all relationships.’
'A brilliantly observed novel.'(Good Housekeeping)
‘This is a delicious story, ripe for a cinematic adaptation.’(Bookbag)
'An unusually crackling, tricky journey into the distant land of other people's marriages ... Ephron writes like a warm-blooded Patricia Highsmith.'(Meg Wolitzer)
‘Siracusa is an Italian aria, a Greek tragedy and a modern American masterpiece written by Delia Ephron at the height of her powers…unforgettable.’(Adriana Trigiani)
'A stunning portrait of two marriages coming unraveled during the stress of travel abroad. Insightful and engaging. A must-read!’
About the Author
Delia Ephron is a journalist, playwright and screenwriter (including the smash hit You’ve Got Mail), as well as a bestselling author of both novels and non-fiction. She lives in New York, and co-wrote the movies Michael, Bewitched and Hanging Up.
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The nature/nurture discussion is certainly a point of debate, as her mother is fused with her daughter, they eat the same ice cream, choose the same food and sleep in the same hotel bed on their travels. Claustrophobia is the overarching theme of their relationship, it is cloying control exerted in the name of protection.
The adults around Snow start straying into the inappropriate – where is their boundary-keeping, one wonders – their enmeshed stories coming to the fore, choosing subject matters around the dinner table that would cause consternation to an average adult when a child is present; but this is largely all about them, they are a pretty self serving bunch.
Here’s the thing, however, these people have psyches and personalities that are almost interchangeable. Each chapter is from the viewpoint of one member of the adult party and early on I had to keep flipping back and forth to ascertain whose voice was shedding light on the unfolding dynamics. They blended at the start, keeping their individual public personas well honed in Rome. But as they transfer to Sicily it seemed to give permission for their innate selves to seep out and flourish, and they are for the most part pretty loathsome. Rome is solid and sleek and so are they for the most part. On to Syracuse, which is depicted as incredibly run down, crumbling and tacky, “in a perpetual state of disintegration…” and thus it is that their metamorphosis takes place in line with the disintegrating setting as described.
Almost from the outset, we know that things are not going to end well, as there are clear references to life post-Siracusa. You will need to read the book to find out what the catalyst was that made their trip go truly pear-shaped.
Snow seems to be a sweet child, and yet… as she deliberately faints in front of the Caravaggio in Santa Lucia alla Badia the painting that is the star attraction in the city, the reader becomes acutely aware that this child has a sharp, perhaps vituperative eye on the world, her fluttering insouciance – just like the adults – is perhaps a well honed front.
This is maybe a novel not to enjoy so much but to read and ponder. The writing has a style that to my eyes is very American – there is an artistic disjointedness that I have come across in other books written by American authors. But it flows, it has panache and I am still thinking about the book even now. I guess it is as much about what one is used to, the traditions of one’s culture and as the author amusingly quips about culture – the BBC backdrops are dreary and English news commentators don’t dress with much style”. Every culture sees the world through a unique lens….
The locations are evocatively drawn and as a reader I certainly felt I was there. As they visited San Crispino for ice cream (well worth a visit when you are in Rome) I could really visualise them choosing their flavours. And now I have a top tip from the characters when I visit Syracuse as I shall have to pop into Voglia Matta (which gets a good star rating on TripAdvisor). Do I agree, though, with the sentiments of one character: How sad that Rome, and Paris too, are no longer evolving, pulsing entities, but preserved as if in aspic satisfy the fantasies of tourists? (Discuss!)
I was totally delighted to see that character Lizzie followed the TripFiction ethos and chose to read a murder mystery To Each His Own by by Leonard Sciascia set in the place to which she was travelling, a book that… delves into the psychology and culture of Sicily, all wrapped in a good crime mystery. Perfetto!
Overall, an excellent read.
It is a well written book and well proofread, with no typos or grammatical glitches (says the pedant!) the characters were well developed, with each telling a chapter from their own perspective except for Snow, who is described only rough the others' eyes.
If you like an intelligent yarn that builds slowly but to a satisfying climax, read this novel.
A gripping and intense read.
It fails as a thriller as every event is foreshadowed in 60 ft neon signage. It fails as a talky, New Yorky satire because it completely misunderstands the fundamental rule of satire which is to always punch up, never down. Ms. Ephron, whether she likes it or not, is New York, romcom royalty. Throughout the book she punches down on the awful, two-dimensional, dim-wits she has populated her book with. They are all below her on the scale she purports to be laughing at and she punishes them mercilessly for it.
The denouement when it finally arrives is spectacularly predictable. The unpleasant behavior of every POV character remains mostly unaddressed. It's just a giant blancmange of actions without consequences and spoiled human beings unaffected by their weaknesses and stupidity.
Almost three hundred pages with not one single believable or identifiable action or speech. This is the worst kind of novel-vomit.
In fact all in all it's a rather strange and depressing tale, the prose and storytelling are obviously by a very talented writer, but not my personal cup of tea.
The novel is really an American one, the writing is very American & it will probably be a big seller in the US, I don't believe it will be very popular in the U.k
I have visited Rome and Sicily several times and both places are magical and wonderful, the descriptions in this book of two stunning locations falls rather flat.
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