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The Light in the Piazza

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  179 ratings  ·  22 reviews

Produced and directed by Patrick Fraley and Hillary Huber, recorded at Buzzy’s Recording in Los Angeles, music composed and performed by Noel Webb

The Light in the Piazza takes place in Italy in the summer of 1953. Margaret Johnson and her beautiful, twenty-six-year-old daughter, Clara, are touring the Tuscan countryside. While sightseeing, Clara meets a good-looking young

Hardcover, 110 pages
Published June 1st 1960 by Mcgraw-Hill (first published 1960)
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THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA. (1960). Elizabeth Spencer. *****.
This short novel is exquisitely plotted and sensitively told. It is the story of Margaret Johnson and her daughter, Clara. They are on an extended vacation in Italy, starting out in Florence. They are Americans from Winston-Salem, and Margaret’s husband, who plans to meet them later, is an executive with a cigarette company. While having a refreshment in a café off of the Duomo, a young Italian man comes up to them and introduces himself.
Jan 03, 2014 Ann rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
This short book from 1960(some describe is a novella) is written from the point of view of Margaret Johnson, a well-preserved middle-aged American lady who is making a leisurely visit of Italy, together with her beautiful daughter Clara. When the handsome Fabrizio starts courting Clara, Margaret feels terribly conflicted : should she tell him and his rather inquisitive family that Clara's apparent innocence is really due to a cognitive arrest incurred as a result of a fall of a horse when she wa ...more
Melissa Stahly
I am about half way through The Light in the Piazza and it has proven to be a very quick read. I have to share this passage to show the wit in Elizabeth Spencer's writing: "Tea at the Naccarelli household revealed that the family lived in a spacious apartment with marble floors and had more bad pictures than good furniture." My only critique at the moment is that there is some conversation in Italian and I wish I would have brushed up in basic conversation Italian before picking up the book. Gra ...more
Dec 18, 2014 Lizzie marked it as to-read-off-my-shelf
Received a used copy of this from a reseller, with a souvenir photo from North Carolina Aquariums showing five teenage girls being dramatically eaten by a green-screen shark, stuck in as a bookmark before Chapter 8.

So many reasons to buy used books. <3
Susan Dehn Matthews
I found this small treasure of a book at a farmer's market (!) where the local library had a "free books" display. Here was the story behind the Tony award-winning play that I have long-hoped to see. Amazingly, this small, 54 year old volume is a first-edition with an almost pristine dust jacket. It is also a book that I read quickly (less than 24 hours)and put down only for the obligatory meals and such. Still, the story lingers in the mind and calls you back at the first moment of opportunity. ...more
I'm not exactly sure why I avoided Elizabeth Spencer as long as I did. (Also I'm not sure why it took me so long to read this 100-page book. I blame that small person I live with.) It turns out that she is kind of good in a quiet way. Lots of unexpected turns of phrase settled among comfortable 50s prose. Does that make any sense? Not really. Sorry.

A delightful read and basis for one of my favorite musicals of all time. I highly recommend this!
I first saw this title when I watched the Tony Awards a few years ago, and was sufficiently curious about the story to check for the book. Finally got it in my hands -- and now I think I'd like to see what they did with it on stage.

The story comes off as fairly simple; it's a short read. A mother watching over her daughter on an extended visit in Florence; the daughter is what was once "simple"--developmentally stunted as a 10 year old or so--but she falls in love with a young Italian, and moth
I wanted to read this before seeing the musical this fall and it was an interesting novella. The story is about Clara and Fabrizio who fall in love while Clara and her mother are travelling through Italy in the 1950s. But the book is really about the mother, Margaret Johnson. Most of the book really takes place in the mind of the mother who is trying to decide what to do about her daughter and this love affair. Clara had an accident as a child and has a mental capacity of a 10-year-old, but is r ...more
A gem. Atmospheric and gorgeously written. The musical was based on this novella.
Jennifer Fitzery
I read this in one sitting, that never happens.
I'm writing this review from Florence and thus am probably a bit biased in giving it 5 stars. But really, the writing is excellent and the setup is very compelling; it's a page turner. The story ends up delving into surprisingly deep questions, for such a short work (I'd go into detail but am avoiding spoilers). It's a satisfying read that leaves you wanting more; and its portrayal of Florence, at times a bit dated in its generalizations, is nevertheless highly acute.
Wonderfully written exploration of the thought processes of a 1950s mother who wants the best for her daughter.
Short and interesting character study -- watching a mother rationalize her way into something unexpected -- but way too short to show any real consequences. I wanted the rest of the story.
3.5 stars...quick and easy, makes you dream of Tuscany and summer and young love, and makes you wonder what would you do for your daughter's happiness?
Veeeery short book. Reading this book was kind of like watching 2 strangers meet for the first time and trying to make up their romance story on the spot.
Loved reading the source material for the musical to see how this story was adapted for another medium.
Kagama-the Literaturevixen
Ive seen the movie it was poignant(and a bit controversial) so maybe I should read the book too?
Not much of a plot to the story. It left me wanting for a more interesting storyline.
Brought back many of the scenes from the film of 1962.
Great story.
Rebecca marked it as to-read
Dec 22, 2014
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Born in Carrollton, Mississippi, Spencer was valedictorian of her graduating class at local J.Z. George High School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi and her Master's Degree in Literature at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1943.

Spencer taught at the junior-college level for two years before accepting a job with the Nashville Tennessean,
More about Elizabeth Spencer...
Starting Over The Light in the Piazza and Other Italian Tales The Voice at the Back Door The Southern Woman: New and Selected Fiction (Modern Library) Landscapes of the Heart

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