Book Review / Only in Naples by Katherine Wilson

“‘Lessons in food and family’ is a perfect description for this feel-good, optimistic perspective of being a foreigner in Italy.”
Irina Markovsky reviews Only in Naples by Katherine Wilson.

‘Lessons in food and family’ is a perfect description for this feel-good, optimistic perspective of being a foreigner in Italy.

American-born Katherine is fresh out of college and without a single word of Italian in her repertoire when she arrives in Naples, Italy. A city notorious for pickpockets and the danger it poses, especially for a woman in her twenties travelling alone, Naples is at first an intimidating plight for Katherine. Despite this, Katherine is quick to find Naples and its people to be warm and welcoming when she begins her internship at the US Consulate.

One of the first people she meets is Raffaella, who helps her find accommodation and settle into the Italian way of life. The elegant Raffaella’s son is the handsome and studious Salvatore, who steals Katherine’s heart. This is how Katherine’s Italian education begins: never eat the crust of a pizza first, always stand up and fight for yourself and your loved ones, and remember that mealtimes are sacred.

Katherine falls in love with Naples through the beauty of Italian culture and its food shown to Katherine by her future mother-in-law, Raffaella. Katherine is so taken with Raffaella’s passion for cooking and the joy of Italian life, she even names her daughter Raffaella.

Only in Naples is an inspiring memoir of what can happen if you step outside your comfort zone; the love and comfort you might find in return promises to be worthwhile.

Through courtship, culture clashes, Sunday Mass, marriage, and motherhood, Katherine slowly comes to appreciate carnale: the quintessentially Neapolitan sense of comfort and confidence in one’s own skin.

This glorious memoir celebrates the holy trinity of Italian life: love, food, and family. Katherine Wilson’s keen eye and good sense of humor takes the reader through the winding streets of Naples on a ride you hope will never end. If you love Italy, or the idea of it, you will love this book. This warm, witty biography made me yearn for the pasta and a myriad of other fantastic dishes described in delicious detail in the book.

 Irina Markovsky is based in Sydney. You can follow her on twitter at @MomentinArt.

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