Tuesday, 20 May 2008

See Naples and Die by Penelope Green - review



I have just finished reading See Naples and Die by Penelope Green who is an Australian author now living on an island off the coast of Naples (according to the inside cover of her latest novel.) You may have heard of or even read her first novel, When in Rome - Chasing La Dolce Vita although I know the books are hard to get a hold of since they are only published in Australia. I obviously have my Australian connections and got the first copy for a few dollars off ebay when I was last in Australia, and my twin sister bought the latest novel yet again for me and rather then shipping it over sent it with mum and dad.


I felt strongly that I had to write a review as I am truely dissapointed with the second novel. The first one is a light hearted, sweet book all about an Australian girl moving to Rome for the first time. An easy to read novel it did not cause me to skip too many pages, however perhaps that was due to the fact that it was my first year in Rome when I first read the book, perhaps it is because I too am an Australian girl living on the other side of the world, or perhaps it is because the first book is well written in a light hearted fashion...who knows... All I can say is that I love to read, but I hate reading stupid, time wasting books that leave me skipping page after page trying to get myself interested. Sadly this is what happened with See Naple and Die.

It took me a few hours to read the book as I skipped through most of the boring parts (which are many.) She spends pages on the history of Naples but tells the tales in a boring fashion. One minute the book is a girly novel about life and love, and the next minute it is some boring history lesson. She also spends way too many pages on her obsession with the Camorra and the bleakness of Napoli. Penelope had only lived one year in Napoli which is the time her book is based, however she makes herself out to be some expert of the way of life, and leads us to believe she has delved into the souls of the locals, uncovered their truths about the 'Napoli' that the tourists never see. Lastly Penelope Green appears to be confused as to what genre her book would be, so she decided to make it a bit of everything...it really was for me a confusing read as she goes really indepth into some aspects and then she lightly dusts over other parts. The book is a little like ' I ate lunch here, then I went there, and then I went here...' wham bham whilst 10 pages talk about some Mafia story.

I would recommend buying this book only if you have a twin sister in Australia who can buy it for next to nothing on ebay.

15 comments:

Jessica_in_Rome said...

How sad! I have been dying to read one (any) of her books! As you know they are NO WHERE to be found! I really want to read the Rome one, but how disappointing the Naples one sucks.

Leanne said...

Hi Jessica,
I have the Rome one down in Calabria or else I could have leant it to you. Sadly the Naples one is REALLY bad and not worth the time.

LuLu said...

That's so disappointing. It sucks when you really enjoy a novel by a particular author and then their other works just don't measure up. I'll keep my eyes open for "When in Rome"...just another title to add to my long list of books to read!! :P

bleeding espresso said...

I liked the Rome one well enough, but now you have me curious about the Naples one. What can I say--I'm a glutton for punishment ;)

If you'd be willing to send it (either from Rome or when you're in Calabria) email me:

bleedingespresso[dot]sognatrice[at]gmail[dot]com

Leanne said...

Hi lulu,
It is disappointing when the first book was ok and the second one so stupid.

Hi Michelle,
I'm lending it to someone first then I can post it to you...or you never know, when I am back in Calabria maybe I'll eventually make it down to your village and give it to you!

GreekGoddess said...

I read When In Rome and loved it and because a friend of mine had read See Naples and Die and liked it, I bought that too and half-read it. Couldn't finish it because it almost put me to sleep and had no discernible plot or sense of going anywhere. I admire Penelope's courage but her publisher sadly needs replacing!

Leanne said...

Hi Greek goddess,
I am so glad someone agrees with me. It was a real shame wasn't it? I really wanted to enjoy the book but just could not!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to explain that Ms Green's books are not fictional tales. The review and the comments repeatedly refer to her books as "novels". This is incorrect. She writes non-fiction about her life, which takes a little of the sting out of the criticism of her switching genres or writing about seemingly mundane details.

Leanne in Italy said...

Hello there,
I am well aware that the books are non-fiction. I just personally think that the second book is a bit boring. The first one was light hearted and fun to read while the second one - in my opinion - was lacking something. We are all entitled to our own opinion and my opinion is that.

Joanna said...

I loved both books but actually thought her second book was much better! I thought it was much more balanced, providing a mix of the everyday but with added depth, through her interviews and the history of Naples. Loved it! Can't wait to read the third book :)

LouLou said...

I read Penelope's first book and was left wanting more, so that when I discovered her second book I was estatic! I loved both her books, she is a fabulous writer. For me, as an 'arm-chair' traveller, reading about her experiences, thoughts and loves were a such an insight into an Aussie girl living life in another part of the world. I thoroughly enjoyed them and didn't want them to finish.

Debbi said...

I thoroughly enjoyed both books. As individuals we all take things from books that others may not. I enjoyed her little history lessons in See Naples and Die. My daughter and I spent alot of time on the internet finding more information on subjects from her book. How wonderful for a book to create that! Bring on the 3rd!!

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed "See Naples and Die." When I travelled to Naples although it was only a brief stop-over, the place captivated me. I have also spent time living in a country learning a language and it was a very special time in my life. I found Penelope's style of writing very engaging and did not want to put the book down. If you are a person who enjoys reading about history and the social fabric of a european culture or society which is foreign to you, you will enjoy this book. I found that it had the right balance between describing the city in all it's rich socio-cultural complexity and the personal journey of the author. Penelope's descriptions of her daily routines, her social life and her journalism endeavours I found inspiring. I am excited to learn of this independent, talented woman representing Australian women and setting an example to all young women to value the opportunities we have today to pursue the life we aspire to.

Gail said...

I have read the first two instalments and am a third of a way through "Girl By Sea" the third book. I enjoyed the first two books even though they were quite different in style. I am thoroughly enjoying the third book as it is quite food orientated and includes recipes! I have travelled a little in Italy and really enjoy reading other peoples travel adventures. I like Penny's style and I really catch her enthusiasm and love for Italy.

Mardi. said...

I once read that critics are like horse flies, they bite the horses but don't help pull the cart. I don't quite see the point in pulling some-one else's efforts so much to pieces. You could spend that time being creative yourself instead. I am really enjoying Penelope's book "When in Rome" and happily recommend it. Every one creates in their own way and thank goodness that they do.
Mardi.