August 13, 2017

Only in Naples

Always on the lookout for local authors when travelling, my eyes set on an all too familiar sounding phrase during our stopover at Napoli airport: "Lessons in Food and Famiglia from my Italian Mother-in-Law."

I don't usually share my Summer reading but this book was just too delicious to devour by myself.

"Only in Naples" is one of the most entertaining books I have read in a long time. Admittedly as an Anglo-American married to a Neapolitan it all makes perfect sense. The author has incorporated endless anecdotes that had me laughing out loud eventhough at the time I was living these experiences first-hand I probably did not find them so funny.

When marrying into another culture it takes time, patience and understanding which is not always easy when you are still trying to figure out married life or worse don't yet master the language or dialect spoken in your new home country.

Reading about many all too familiar situations from my marriage of nearly 20 years to a true Neapollitan, Katherine Wilson had me smile with contempt time and time again. It wasn't just me after all. What I had learnt the hard way over the years is delightfully described in chapters leading straight to the point. Heartfelt lessons that come from the author's soul and show a true and thorough analysis of Neapolitan culture. A culture that grips your stomach before letting your head get around it. People that steal your heart before you have realized what is happening. 

Many passages have been read out loud to my husband (something that never happens) just to relive those moments of genuine misunderstanding and subsequent comical outcomes or fuming frustration that we have experienced over two decades of common life.

The mention of 'A Marenna hit home big time with my adolescent son who would give almost everything for his Napoli team.

My teenage daughter declared age three she would no longer wear pink ruffles and still wears fluorescent t-shirts! La nonna did manage to kit her out with "proper" shoes for a few years though!

The description of Napoli's medical care had me in stiches. What would we do without that friend of a friend who knows the father's cousin of the hospital's head doctor?

And when my husband asked if the fresh eggs had been mentioned in the book, it was proof that "Only in Naples" was a deep and authentic picture of everyday Neapolitan life. A rendering that needs to be felt, tasted and lived rather than simply read and understood.

This book is a treasure and should be read by every foreigner who is marrying into a Neapolitan family. For it is not only the person but the clan you are committing to.

As my father said to me just before leading me down the aisle: " You wanted Italian, now you got to deal with Italian!"

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