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

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,396 Ratings  ·  583 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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Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony DoerrWhen in French by Lauren CollinsFlirting with French by William   AlexanderIn Other Words by Jhumpa LahiriLiving with a Dead Language by Ann  Patty
Books about learning a language
1st out of 6 books — 2 voters
The Snow Leopard by Peter MatthiessenRefuge by Terry Tempest WilliamsThe Land of Little Rain by Mary AustinA Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo LeopoldWalden, Or, Life In The Woods by Henry David Thoreau
Biographies of Place
23rd out of 136 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

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Rick Riordan
Jul 24, 2015 Rick Riordan rated it it was amazing
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
May 13, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
This is a lovely and enjoyable travelogue from an American writer who spent a year in Rome on a fellowship. I picked it up not just because I like travel memoirs, but also because I recently read Anthony Doerr's excellent novel All the Light We Cannot See, and he had been working on that book while he was in Rome back in 2004.

Doerr and his wife moved to Italy when their twins were newborns, so besides the travel vignettes and insightful comments from a writer talking about the process of writing
Amy F.
Aug 06, 2008 Amy F. rated it did not like it
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
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

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
Gina de Jong
Apr 06, 2016 Gina de Jong rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016k
This was a great read - thank you Anthony Doerr for winning the award that gave you a year in Rome with your wife and babies! I definitely connected with this little memoir as I was totally soaking up the imagery and play by play in anticipation of being in Rome in about a month! I also related so well to the exhaustion of little baby boys! I loved the insight and we view such "old world or "old history" in this modern digital society. And now I have a little bit better understa ...more
May 31, 2016 Jeanette rated it really liked it
This was SO thoroughly enjoyed. Not only for the "new eyes" to Rome but also for the total Doerr grab to what infancy care feels like for a parent. In this case first time parents and also for multiples, twins.

But believe me, when you have an endless screamer or have them in steps less than 18 months apart, there is little difference. I absolutely adored that closet room they rigged up in that tiny Rome apartment so the screamer could have his dark.

He also completely "gets" insomnia. The variet
Jul 17, 2010 Ivor rated it it was amazing

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.
Jul 19, 2007 Jonelle rated it really liked it
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
Mar 19, 2016 Carol rated it it was amazing
The day his wife gave birth to twin boys, Doerr found out he won a fellowship he hadn't applied for: a year in Rome with all expenses paid so he can write. Six months later Anthony and Shauna, Henry and Owen, leave Boise and move to Rome. He lives in the same neighborhood Julius Caesar lived and sits in the garden where Galileo sat. Ponder that! The book he was preparing to write was All the Light We Cannot See. [Now that he's moved to Paris, I'm kicking myself for not driving to Boise to for on ...more
Nov 29, 2008 Wendell rated it it was ok
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
Roger DeBlanck
Jan 12, 2016 Roger DeBlanck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, non-fiction
After receiving the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and with that honor a one-year, expense-paid opportunity to live and write in Rome, Anthony Doerr was off to Italy with his wife and their newborn twin sons. As a new parent, he confesses not to have made much headway with the novel he had hoped to work on during his time abroad, but we gained the gift of his unforgettable memoir, Four Seasons in Rome. It is a breathtaking book of mesmerizing observations and heartfelt ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Shawna rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 15, 2010 Annie rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 29, 2009 Elise rated it liked it
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
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I absolutely adored the descriptions of Italy described throughout the novel, it set a beautiful tone for the entire book and I almost rated it four stars from that alone.

But on the other hand I found this book pretty hard to follow. I can understand that to a point, as it is a memoir and I found the jumps rather disorienting as was the seemingly random bits of description that appeared to have no place other than to describe the novel.

I gotta a
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
Feb 18, 2009 Jill rated it really liked it
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
Jan 03, 2016 Cat rated it it was amazing
The premise sounds like a vaguely prepossessing travel book (what is it like to visit Italy with infant twins? madcap hijinks ensue), but Doerr is such a reflective, Woolfian writer that what begins as a fish-out-of-water set-up (new parents! new city!) becomes a reflection on mortality, parenthood, layers of history, and the flight of time. His prose transports you into the jangling, layered intensity of Roman streets and sensory impressions. He collects interlacing trivia, attuned to ancient a ...more
Ishita Sood
Jan 22, 2016 Ishita Sood rated it really liked it
I never thought I'd say this but after reading a few of those "expat" books on finding the perfect house in Tuscany and showing Italy in a way that is very cliche, I wasn't sure I'd like this book.

But Doerr won my heart with his prose! He can capture moments through his words. It felt like I was right there with him...he has weaved a few months in Rome so beautifully despite the twin struggles that I have to say I have fallen in love with Rome all over again!
Jul 15, 2016 Arlen rated it it was amazing
Call me a book nerd--my husband did--but I read this book while I simultaneously listened to the audio version in my car. I did the latter as I wanted to hear Anthony Doerr's own voice as he described his four seasons in Rome with his wife and infant twin sons. It was interesting for many reasons but especially so because he was at the early stages of trying to write All the Light You Cannot See, his very successful Pulitzer winning novel. It is a fascinating view into his early writing and thou ...more
Oct 08, 2008 GraceAnne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Debra
This is so very beautiful to read: about Rome, about being a new parent (to twin boys), about being in Italy for the first time, about writing and how to write. Doerr does all of this at once, in sentences you can practically taste and with a rush a sensuous description about everything from baby gear to street aroma. Luscious.
Mar 08, 2016 Juliana rated it it was amazing
This book should also include the word "Writing" in the title. This book is about being in Rome while writing your future Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel. Or not writing it because you are taking care of twins, suffering insomnia and oh, yes a Pope dies in there as well.

Here is a sample of Doerr on the Italian language and his twins learning to talk:

"Beneath the city that is the Italian language, there are huge underground cities, Italo-Dalmatian, Tuscan, Latin, Greek, and beneath them catacombs o
Jan 22, 2008 Lou rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 26, 2015 Ariel rated it it was amazing
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...)
Timothy Neesam
May 14, 2016 Timothy Neesam rated it it was amazing
Four Seasons in Rome is not a long book, and I took my time reading it. My gosh, I enjoyed this book. I wouldn't have thought a book about a guy who goes to Rome with his wife and infant twins would resonate so strongly. Doerr is, by turns, enthralled and mystified (sometimes both simultaneously) by Rome and its citizens. It's beautifully written, with remarkable turns of phrase, wonderfully described observations. I loved this book. Loved it. What a great read. I also find it mildly amusing tha ...more
Jul 07, 2014 Stacy rated it really liked it
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
Jun 05, 2016 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anthony Doerr plays the English language like a beautiful instrument: Words and sentences are transformed into music for the mind. This is at face value a simple travel journal documenting a year spent living and working in Rome with his wife and twin boys. But it is a reading experience to be savoured. A linguistic symphony with delicate descriptive phrases, grand, sweeping observations, delightful historical anecdotes and meaty philosophical questions about life, the universe and everything. A ...more
May 09, 2016 Linnae rated it it was amazing
Doerr writes of his writing fellowship in Rome, Italy over the course of a year. He received a letter in the mail informing of the award as his wife was in the hospital, having just given birth to their twins.

He describes the endless sleepless nights with two crying babies, the transcendence of light, the wonder of the Pantheon. He also delves into some of the history, and of course, the funeral of Pope John Paul II alluded to in the title.

I really enjoyed this. I had the chance to visit Rome s
May 18, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, italy, to-buy
When I was eight months pregnant with our first child, my husband quit his job (in the middle of a recession) and we moved to a new state where he enrolled in graduate school. A lot of people thought we were crazy.

So when I heard that this memoir was about a couple who moved to Rome for a year with their infant twin boys for the husband to pursue a writing grant, I knew I needed to read this book.

Because it is crazy–starting a new life in a foreign country, with twin boys who barely sleep (and a
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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
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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.” 30 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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