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I was a bit disappointed in Four Seasons in Rome, Insomnia and the Biggest Funeral in the world by Anthony Doerr. I have spent time in Rome myself and did enjoy reading about the bits of Rome with which I am familiar. On the other hand, I was annoyed that Doerr had acquired a grant to spend time in Rome writing his Magnus Opus and instead ended up writing what appears to be a diary of how to cope with Roman traffic while pushing a pram containing his babies around the streets. Anyone who has twins is going to have insomnia, and living with twins in an unfamiliar city where you don't speak the language is going to be even more difficult. Doerr is mildly amusing but I felt the story could have been better and although he did evoke a sense of place I found it difficult to emphasise with him and his wife when they appeared to be luxuriating as opposed to the lives of those around them who were bringing up children in more difficult circumstances. I did not suffer from insomnia while reading this book, I found it an effective soporific.
I enjoyed this diary type description of life in. Rome. It is not up to the standard of other Doerr works. The average person would not find his twin babies and their early progress particularly enchanting, though having travelled on an Italian liner with blonde triplets, the greetings and exclamations were nostalgic. I gained little insight into Rome, rain dominated his walks while I am sure sunny days were very frequent. He describes the hot humidity but not the bright cheerful mornings! His ventures into Umbria were the most inviting chapters.
I enjoyed this book, which I found gave a good sense of what it was like for someone arriving in Rome, with his wife and two very young twin boys. It draws you in, and if you've been to Rome, or if you haven't, you get a feel for the experience of that city. Anthony Doerr is a writer who uses imagery very well, so if you like that kind of writing you'll enjoy this. There is no plot, it is simply a very poetic diary of his time there, and of the love for their two boys.
I'd read some of this author's fictional books and thought to give this one a try, particularly since I have relatives who live in Italy and have spent some time in Rome. It's the story of how the author spent a year in that city with his wife and new born twins. He writes evocatively so I felt I was in Rome in many of his descriptions. There seems to be a tendency for certain people to go and live somewhere else without researching anything of that country, their customs or their language, and so they remain "strangers in a strange land". But perhaps the author didn't have time to do that! I like his work but didn't really warm to this one.
Thus book is wonderful and the writer brilliant. I initially borrowed a copy from our local library having just read another of Anthony's Doerr's books that I thought was excellent; 'All The Light We Cannot See'. This one I liked even better for the fantastic quality of writing. So I ordered 2 copies for friends and another for myself as it's a book I shall re read in time... All copies arrived in a short time and all three in excellent condition.
A beautifully written book where every word counts. Not just an account of a unique period spent in Rome with a young family but also an insight into the terrors and joys of parenting the first born - in this case times two. To do all that in a foreign country and hectic city takes courage and/or ignorance! He has succeeded in making Rome a desired destination whilst acknowledging the difficulty of ever really belonging in a foreign country.