As many of you may know, Doerr authored Pulitzer prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See. This short memoir is completely different, but enjoyable. It is one of the products which came out of the year Doerr, his wife, and their newborn twin boys spent in Rome after he was awarded a fellowship to live and work at the American Institute there. Lacking basic knowledge of the Italian language, his experiences humorously provide insight into the life of a new parent with insomnia in Rome.
The memoir contains fond memories and frustrations experienced as Doerr gets lost amid winding streets, trying to cart twin babies in their stroller up and down the city steps, and much more. By pure coincidence, Pope John Paul II passed away during their time in Rome. Doerr’s first-hand views brought back my own memories of that loss. I found the tours and historical information fascinating and understood much more thanks to my previous read SPQR. Doerr’s sensory descriptions of places and experiences are filled with color, light, and heart. Clearly, and despite the obstacles he and his wife faced, Doerr fell in love with Italy — the people, places, and food.
I enjoyed most of this book; some parts seemed a little rambling. I can’t imagine how Doerr found time to write! What I wouldn’t give for an opportunity such as this fellowship. Who wouldn’t? It is a far cry from Doerr’s fiction, but an enjoyable light read all the same.