Four Seasons in Rome, by Anthony Doerr

Cover ImageFinished 6-19-08, rating 4.5/5, memoir, pub. 2007

Subtitle-On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

“Too much beauty, too much input; if you’re not careful you can overdose.”  (Winter)

“It is a Metropolitan Museum of Art the size of Manhattan, no roof, no display cases, and half a million combustion engines rumbling in the hallways.”  (Winter)

Doerr won the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and was awarded a year in Rome with a home, an office, and a paycheck.   This memoir is his love letter to Rome, his wife, and his two young boys. 

Anthony, his wife, Shauna, and their six-month-old twins, Owen & Henry, arrive in Rome in the fall.  His first perceptions of Rome took me back to our own trip to Italy in April.  The discussion of the toilets, the crazy traffic, the confusion on how to order and pay, the absence of fat people, and the absolute awe of the history, all made me smile in agreement and remembrance.  Moving into winter there is the visit to St. Peter’s Basilica and watching the Pope being carried by, the five minutes alone in the Sistene Chapel, and seeing the Pantheon for the first time.  The game of bus golf sounds wonderfully fun and just up my alley.  Take a bus (or train) and randomly get off at stops and see what’s there before doing it again.  In the spring the Pope dies and a new one is chosen right in their backyard.  Shauna is hospitalized.  The heat of summer overwhelms them and they take weekly trips out of Rome to Umbria.

My copy is marked with lines and exclamation points that make it easy for me to go back and read my favorite passages (there are many).  I have already gone back and read many of the passages and pages I loved most and I just finished the book yesterday.  He has passages on Rome, on parenting, and on the splendor of life that will stick with you.  I highly recommend this memoir- especially if you love Italy or have had twins.