Amalfi Blue and Shrouded in Pompei, a declaration of love to Campania

Last time we introduced you to the literary works of some authors who set their novels in Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. This time we talk about another author who has written not just one, but two books in these places.

Her name is Lisa Fantino, she is an attorney, journalist and educator based in New York City (but of Italian ancestry). She has won numerous awards for her twenty year career as a broadcaster with the NBC Radio Networks and New York City’s all news stations, but she has confessed her soul is always happiest in Italy, especially in Amalfi Coast.

She also finds the time to manage and regularly update Wanderlust Women Travel, a travel site providing tips, reviews, information and inspiration written by women for women. And her first novel, Amalfi Blue, is a recollection of her journeys around Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano and Naples and a personal memoir of anecdotes and adventures filled with enthusiasm for the Italians. Her knowledge of the places and her fascination with the Italian culture is evident in every single page of the book, which contains some sentences in Italian as well. She even realizes that each part of the Amalfi Coast has its own scent. In Sorrento it is orange and lemon blossoms. On Ischia, it is jasmine. On Capri, it is wisteria.

"While life takes work, it is yours to make great", is written in Amalfi Blue, and Lisa's book is actually an emotional journey that begins with the typical disorientation of tourists and ends with the awareness that this journey was an opportunity to discover her true self. After Amalfi Blue became a Kindle bestseller in many countries, Fantino wrote a second novel, Shrouded in Pompei, which is mainly a thriller. The book starts with the death of Rich Lee Bourne, a retired Navy Captain working for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Naples, and the only child of Speaker of the House Leslie Bourne, a prominent figure of US politics. Bourne is found dead in the ruins of Pompeii, apparently of natural causes, but news reporter Michelle Malone will struggle with Italian justice system and the machination of Washington political scene only to eventually find the truth. Fantino is once again an acute observer of the Naples area in this novel, even if she broadens the perspective to other countries too. She describes with plenty of details not only the food and the places, but even the typical Neapolitan habits such as the strolling on the Lungomare. At the same time her narrative is not only a celebration of Italy's bella vita.

“This is Italy,” says Lyn Scarpe, one of the characters in the novel, examining the crime scene. “Yellow tape, red lights and cautionary signs, be damned. They’re merely suggestions.” And "Italy is a beautiful country but its people settle for inadequate services at every turn. Why? Why do people endure mediocrity anywhere?" says to herself an upset Mickey Malone. Her analysis of camorra is also insightful and far from stereotypes.

Shrouded in Pompei ends on a note of love and hope and it is the first in the Mickey Malone series. We are impatiently waiting for the second novel.


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