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Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,077 ratings  ·  365 reviews
Anthony Doerr has received many awards -- from the New York Public Library, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Library Association. Then came the Rome Prize, one of the most prestigious awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and with it a stipend and a writing studio in Rome for a year. Doerr learned of the award the day he and his wife re ...more
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by Scribner Book Company
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Rick Riordan
After finishing All the Light We Cannot See, I’ll confess I was a bit addicted to Doerr’s lovely writing. Since we were about to take a trip to Rome, I thought I would pick up this travelogue about Doerr’s year in Rome as a creative writing resident. He describes the city with love and nostalgia, capturing Rome at its funniest and most breathtaking. It’s difficult to say something new about a city that has captured imaginations for millennia, but Doerr manages to do so in this story of an Idaho ...more
Connie
On the day that his twin sons were born, Anthony Doerr received a letter informing him that he had won the Rome Prize. He was given a small apartment, a studio at the American Academy, and a monthly stipend to spend a year writing in the Eternal City. Six months later, he and his wife bundled up the twins and flew from Idaho to Italy.

Doerr writes about the challenges of parenting twins, especially the lack of sleep, and the love he feels for them. Communicating in Italian is another difficult ta
...more
Amy F.
Humorless self-important dude lives in Rome for a year with his wife and newborn twins. Dude muses about Rome. Dude muses about history. Dude muses about parenthood. Dude muses about musing. Dude thinks that writing short sentences and fragments makes. The banal. More interesting. Dude's wife passes out from exhaustion and dehydration because she's been taking care of the twins by herself while dude muses. Dude muses about this for a while before he takes her to the hospital. Dude muses about th ...more
Ed

I have a love affair with Italy having had the great fortune to visit it two years in a row (2010 and 2011). Venice and Florence were easy falls/love at first sight, Rome not so much. Needless to say spectacular even the first time around (it is Rome after all!), it was much more rough and tumble -- requiring more from the tourist... a bit of work, having to earn it a bit (or a lot) more than the other two locales. But on the second time around, the city easily revealed its charm almost immediat
...more
Jonelle
Jul 19, 2007 Jonelle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: travelers
Shelves: memoirs-ish
I love Rome and this book reminded me why. There is a lot in here about the author's kids and his writing (it is a memoir), but it's all interesting.

I love his descriptions of Rome. One of my faves is (I think I'll get his right)--as he's describing all the contradictions and nuances of Rome, he uses the phrase..a metaphor along the lines of Rome being a dress strap that slipped off the shoulder. (obviously his wording is much more lovely). But, that's a great comparison for the City-- all at o
...more
Ivor
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!

The diction of the novel just feels so right and natural to me. Doerr is a true artist, knowing exactly how to blend a combination of words to make you stop and stare (and envy his talent). I read this book every time I want to get myself in a writing mood. His craft is undeniable. A must read for every writer that loves the sound of words and the compelling images it creates.
Wendell
Superficiality doesn’t run much deeper than this: If you know next to nothing about Italy, are never planning to visit, and are perfectly content to allow your impressions of the country be informed by *Under the Tuscan Sun*-like romanticism and shameless, treacly sentimentality, then *Four Seasons in Rome* is the travel book for you. Otherwise, Doerr’s constant doses of high-sugar, low-fiber commentary about his and his family’s year in Rome are only going to have you reaching for your insulin ...more
Lilisa
An engaging, warm and personal account by Anthony Doerr of his one-year experience living in Rome with his wife and twin boys – six months old at the time of his move. In poetic prose that vividly brings the city to life before your eyes and makes his experiences the reader’s experiences, Doerr relates what it’s like to supplant oneself from the familiar regularity of a Boise, Idaho life to the vibrant, historical, foreign and vita dolce of Rome, where navigating a stroller and the simple task o ...more
Annie
I loved this book, for taking me back to one of my favorite cities, and for making me feel that I was in Rome as he described his local encounters and enchanting and mesmerizing descriptions of the chaotic city. Books don't often take me back or to a place, and for that, this book was great.

It's also short & easy to read, with a very interesting premise. It's the true account of Anthony Doerr, who finds out on the day that his twins are born, that he has been given a grant to study basicall
...more
Jill
Part of the reason I like this book so much is that it is written by someone who lived for a year in Rome (like we are currently doing), with infant twin sons (his were 6 months when they arrived; our little one was 11 months). He was at the American Academy in Rome which is in our neighborhood, so the places he describes as part of his daily life (fresh pasta place, bread shop, supermarkets, parks) are our places, too. Beyond the similarities to my year in Rome, it is a very nice meditation on ...more
Shawna
I LOVED this book!! The author described so perfectly the beauty, rawness and frustrations of Italy. From the crazy bus schedules- or lack-of-bus-schedules to the smell of the concrete after the rain, Anthony Doerr knows how in one sentence capture the true essence of Rome- the "eternal city" If you haven't yet had the Italian experience, you will be one step closer after reading this book.
Lou
Tony Doerr is amazing. The next big thing. This book is smart and escapist all at once. If you love his writing you'll love his other book of short stories, The Shell Collector. Also, he's a nice person.
Stacy
This is the same author of "All the Light We Cannot See" and I was very excited to read something else he had written. On the day his twins were born, Doerr is notified that he has been granted a year in Rome to work at the American Academy on his creative pursuits. These essays are from his year abroad. My husband and I lived in Rome for a year and it was one of the best things we ever did. To see all of my observations and feelings expressed in a way that was so beautiful and perfect felt as i ...more
Krisette Spangler
I absolutely adored this memoir of Mr. Doerr's year in Rome. His writing brought the city back to life for me, and I loved seeing and tasting the city again through his book. His entries about raising twin boys were funny and touching as well. It was interesting to read, because he went to Rome to work on his novel 'All the Light We Cannot See', which I loved as well. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author, I've loved everything I've read so far. Here's my favorite quote:

"The easie
...more
Dustin
Doerr has a gift for storytelling that is evidenced in his other, more well known work. He applies that same gift to these pages - striving always to use only the right word, even when he's simply describing a day he had with his family in Rome. I picked this up because my wife and I were planning our own trip to Italy. Also I hate travel books. So I thought this would be a good place to meet in the middle, and I was very relieved that I didn't have to struggle at all to get through this - I boo ...more
Linda
What’s not to like about a slim book that encompasses and intertwines themes of displacement, adventure, initiation into parenthood, and the agonies of the writers’ life?

Offered a year-long fellowship to the American Academy in Rome, author Anthony Doerr and his brave wife set off with infant twin babies to settle in a land in which no amount of vocabulary words will completely dispel a lingering state of confusion.

Doerr frankly admits his fears, phobias, and perplexities as he describes in vivi
...more
Elise
This book gave me a lot of mixed feelings. I was looking forward to reading a book set in Italy, and of course reading about other people's sleep and parenting woes is one of my hobbies. Once I started reading, I was pleased at how well-written it was. And I think a special award should go to anyone who pens lines such as, "Trying to dress [the twins:] after a bath is like trying to put pajamas on a mackeral" or "This, I suppose, is what it means to look after two babies: any attempt to make you ...more
Merritt Corrigan
"Rome is a broken mirror, the falling strap of a dress, a puzzle of astonishing complexity. It is an iceberg floating below our terrace, all its ballast hidden beneath the surface."

This was a beautiful little book. Doerr's elegant writing, combined with the obviously splendid subject matter, made for a mesmerizing read. I especially enjoyed the way that he interwove his reading of Pliny's 'Natural History.' I can now safely say that I am looking forward to reading Doerr's fiction!
chrissy
I purchased this book after I read All the Light We Cannot See. I enjoyed reading about Anthony's time in Rome (fun fact - while he was in Rome, he spent time working on ATLWCS, so it was interesting to read about what he was doing while he was researching for that). His memoir immerses the reader into what it is truly like to be a tourist in a foreign country - facing language barriers, cultural differentiations, a seemingly never ending unfamiliarity. Thought-provoking in such a way that allow ...more
Christina Dudley
How delightful to read this on the heels of Doerr's ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE because he refers to the very beginnings of that novel (and his lack of work on it) several times. This was a funny, poignant, consistently interesting memoir of the year Doerr spent in Rome on some fellowship, with his wife and twin baby sons in tow. I most enjoyed the fish-out-of-water passages and his actual visits to places I'd been.

If you're into style--lots of it (you enjoyed Marilynne Robinson's GILEAD, for i
...more
Andrea
Writer offered a year's study in Rome - on the day his twin sons are born. Interesting look at parenthood, but descriptions of Roman architecture overwhelmed me (internet was necessary to see photos firsthand - NOT how I like to read a book). An incredible book - NO, but he had some real zingers in there. "Whoever says adults are better at paying attention than children is wrong: we're too busy filtering out the world, focusing on some task or another, paying no attention. Our kids are the ones ...more
Jessica
I loved this book! The author has a knack for capturing beauty in writing. It's not just about Rome, but about being new parents too. He sees beauty in the everyday; I think that is what spoke to me the most. I also feel I can relate--an American from Idaho in Rome. Read this!
Diane Warrington
Here is a young yet very accomplished writer. As he struggles with twin 6 month old sons and coping with Italian ways of life he writes what he sees around him. He's supposed to be researching and writing a new novel (All the light we cannot see) but his daily journal is where all the writing happens. Like many Americans he is totally seduced by the ancient world of Rome, while the Italians are totally enamoured of his sons.
The one odd note is the American Academy which seems to be peopled by ac
...more
Ariel
I would read a grocery list or a phone book cover to cover if Mr. Doerr was behind it.

(Thanks for the impetus and the reminder to finally drag this one off the "to read" shelf, Lindsay...)
Ms. Kamerow
This book is a lovely meditation on Rome. The author buries himself and the reader with history and full visuals. Bury is probably too strong of a word. As you read these pages, you become coated with petals, soft and pretty, encouraging you to leave home and explore a new place.
Piper
Really wanted to give 4.5 stars. This was just a beautifully written book. The only downside is that now I think I need to go visit Rome again.
Judy
Good book and memoir about a year in Italy won by an author with twin baby boys. He intended to work on "All the Light We Cannot See" but did not make much progress due to the twins. Good book. Have read the excellent novel that came out 10 years later.
Patricia
A beautiful memoir of a writer who was granted the opportunity (that he never applied for) to on write and live in Rome for a year...the very day his twin sons were born. I have never been to Rome, but his descriptions make me feel like I would enjoy the city....for a month....not in the summer!

I met the writer at Chautauqua in 2012 and have Read All the Light You Cannot See which is the book that he intended to write in Rome.
Leigh (Little Book Star)
While some of you loved this book, I had the complete opposite feeling. I disliked it so much! I thought it just went on and on and on. I don't know what Doerr was trying to say in that book; I thought he just babbled forever and I couldn't wait for it to end. The stories were just really random and at one point he'd be talking about this then on the next paragraph he'd have a different subject. This book just bored me and trust me, I tried my best to like it or to find a way for me to enjoy thi ...more
Bonnie
Here's What the Group Thought

Rating: 4 stars
Would you recommend this book to a friend? YES
Would you recommend this book to other book groups? YES

Written Comments:

"Reminds me to look at and appreciate the details. From Shklovsky's writing that we stop perceiving familiar things (pg.54) to Doerr's observation that Italy was familiar enough that he could stop paying attention to it (pg.93) --I am urged to pay attention and appreciate."

"Never been to Rome. Now I feel like I have."

"I loved both c
...more
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Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall , Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discov ...more
More about Anthony Doerr...
All the Light We Cannot See The Shell Collector: Stories Memory Wall About Grace The Snake Handler

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“Just when we think we have a system, ...the system collapses. Just when we know our way around, we get lost. Just when we think we know what's coming next, everything changes.” 25 likes
“Watching teething babies is like watching over a thermonuclear reactor--it is best done in shifts, by well-rested people.” 9 likes
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