Book Review: Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

 


New year, new opportunities to find wonderful books to read! Even though I read many books in 2020, I feel like few of the titles I read were quality reads-the majority were three-star reads- so this year I am striving to read books that I will enjoy more, will surprise me, and will be more than just "meh" books. For one of my first reads for this year, I asked my husband to choose a book for me, and he chose one of his favorites: Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr. 

This work of non-fiction details Doerr's life in Rome for one year, alongside his wife and recently-born twin sons. He receives a chance to spend a year in Rome to write at American Academy of Arts and Letters after winning the Rome Prize. Doerr goes into detail about their transition to living in a foreign country with newborns, not being able to really speak the language, and having issues writing his next book. He and his wife, Shauna, witness the changing seasons in the Italian metropolis as well as the change of another season: the death of Pope John Paul II and the installation of Pope Benedict XVI. Through it all, Doerr provides insight into his feelings and love for the Italian city as well as his struggles with insomnia and exhaustion due to his growing sons. 

I found this book interesting. On the one hand, I loved the sections where Doerr talks about his family and raising his children. On the other, his deep descriptions of Italy and his love for the city are awesome to read, but can become a little much over time. Having never been to Italy myself, I cannot fully appreciate his detailed descriptions and obvious adoration of the history, culture and art of the city as much as someone who has seen it all firsthand. Regardless, it is a compelling read. I just found his writing style a bit overdone at certain points. This book is wholly different than the fiction work I have read from him (All the Light We Cannot See), which is a great surprise. It's also a quick read, coming in at just over 200 pages. 

Starting my year with non-fiction is a great change of pace for me in 2021, and reading a book that means so much to the person I care about the most makes it an even more welcome start to a new year. I would recommend this book to travelers, parents, and anyone who has been or wishes to visit Rome. After 2020, we could all use a good book to whisk us away to a faraway land, seeing as we cannot go there in person. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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