Falling Palace Oversentimental odes to Italy are as ubiquitous as store-bought sauce (and about as bland, too). But Falling Palace , a so-called "Romance of Naples," is… Falling Palace Oversentimental odes to Italy are as ubiquitous as store-bought sauce (and about as bland, too). But Falling Palace , a so-called "Romance of Naples," is… 2005-11-15 Nonfiction Knopf
Book Review

Falling Palace (2005)

EW's GRADE
B+

Details Release Date: Nov 15, 2005; Writer: Dan Hofstadter; Genre: Nonfiction; Publisher: Knopf

Oversentimental odes to Italy are as ubiquitous as store-bought sauce (and about as bland, too). But Falling Palace, a so-called ''Romance of Naples,'' is chilometri away from those sun-kissed, espresso-soaked travelogues. Dan Hofstadter, a tourist-turned-short-term resident, writes of a ''beautiful and wounded city.'' Just as he recalls ''the fragrance of perpetual gaiety,'' he cannot forget ''half-derelict palazzi'' and tiny, ''tomblike'' bassi (apartments). Of course, there is a girl — isn't there always? — Benedetta, who dismisses his opinions and corrects his grammar. (After hearing her lover cohost a local radio show, she tells him, ''You overworked your subjunctives.'') Hofstadter paints a warts-and-all portrait of both Benedetta and Naples, and the two are all the more alluring for their imperfections. He does linger too long in the city's sprawling underground, but one can't fault him for digging deep.

Originally posted Nov 11, 2005 Published in issue #850 Nov 18, 2005 Order article reprints