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*****= An all-time favorite
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**Italy in Mind

An Anthology

edited and with an introduction by Alice Leccese Powers

Reviewed November 18, 2004.
Vintage Books (Random House), New York, 1997.  349 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (810.8032 ITA).

Italy in Mind is a collection of essays, stories, and novel excerpts about traveling or living in Italy, about experiencing Italy and all its wonders.  The blurb on the cover reads:  “From Lord Byron and Edith Wharton to Susan Sontag and Michael Ondaatje—Two centuries of writers celebrate their love affairs with Italy.”

I love the idea of this book.  After all, probably my favorite travel book of all is For the Love of Ireland, with writings by Irish writers arranged by the section of Ireland they are from.  However, in practice I found some of the writings difficult to slog through.  I read this book a little at a time, and it took me a very long time to get through the whole thing.

Still, there are gems.  One of the last chapters (and one that sticks in my mind) is a wonderful story by Edith Wharton set in Rome.  Mark Twain’s meditations from Pompeii are thought-provoking still today.

Don’t read this book if you want a quick guide to Italy.  Many of the older writers are slower about getting to the point than we are accustomed to today.  This is a collection for atmosphere.  Dip into this book to give yourself a leisurely taste of Italy.

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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