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

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  8,506 ratings  ·  1,266 reviews
From the award-winning author of The Shell Collector and About Grace comes an evocative memoir of the timeless beauty of Rome and the day-to-day wonderment of living, writing, and raising twin boys in a foreign city.
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by Scribner Book Company
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Sandra Heath I was distracted by how amazing his writing was. I'd dissect his sentences, wowed by the imagery in each of his sentences; the care he took constructi…moreI was distracted by how amazing his writing was. I'd dissect his sentences, wowed by the imagery in each of his sentences; the care he took constructing them. Wowed by his vocabulary. I really enjoyed this memoir because I also loved the experience of a new place. Traveling overseas. In Europe. In Iran. In England. Paris. Greece. There's nothing like it. And of course I read "All the Light We Cannot See" before this. So it was a perk to stumble across a novel about four seasons in Rome.(less)

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Rick Riordan
Jul 24, 2015 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
Amy F.
Aug 04, 2008 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
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure
What a book ! Sensual, Captivating and beautifully written. Anthony Doerr finds himself in the heart of Rome shortly after his twin boys were born. Having received the Rome Prize, an award that gave him a year-long stipend and studio in Rome he embraces the adventure and moves his family to the Eternal City.

I loved so much about this book, the writing is poetic, lyrical and so vivid, the author's descriptions of Rome through the seasons are breathtaking. This is a short read at 205 pages but D
Aug 19, 2008 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
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
[2.5] While reading Doerr's reminiscences of his family's year in Rome, I sometimes felt like a polite neighbor sitting through a bland, travelogue slideshow. Although well-penned, his observations lacked insight, depth or humor. Fortunately, it was short and easy to finish. I'll stick to his fiction from now on.
Connie G
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Every morning I try to remind myself to give unreservedly, to pore over everything, to test each sentence for fractures in a dream.
-Anthony Doerr

I read this memoir because I want to travel to Rome someday. Yet people who know me or follow my reading habits also know how much of an Anthony Doerr fan I am: his story collection, The Shell Collector, is one of my favorite story collections; his novel, All the Light We Cannot See, was the first novel I reviewed this year and is a favorite read of 202
Nov 28, 2008 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
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am surprised by how disappointed I was while listening to Doerr read this memoir which takes place over the course of a year in Rome. The only other book of Doerr's which I have read is All the Light We Cannot See which I loved and is a favorite. I was looking to revisit Rome through Doerr's eyes and narrative, but I never felt fully engaged which always kills a book for me. Doerr kept me at a distance and pulled me out of his leapfrogging narrative with his constant (over)use of metaphor and ...more
Doerr, who wrote, “All the Light We Cannot See”, wins an award to spend a year in Rome writing. His wife has just given birth to twins and their move is definitely an entertaining one.

Reading this book made me feel as if I was in Rome. His descriptions are beautiful and it was just lovely to imagine all the sights, sounds, and aromas. The book is sprinkled with wonderful moments throughout. Towards the end, however, I felt that it was becoming a bit aimless and it started to drag, but I enjoyed

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
May 13, 2016 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 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.
Carol Bakker
Mar 19, 2016 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 a few hours to Boi ...more
Dec 29, 2009 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
Gina *loves sunshine*
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 10, 2007 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
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Anthony Doerr received a writing studio for one year in Rome as part of an award he won. WOW. So he packed up his newborn twins, his wife and spent four seasons in Rome. The man has a way with words whether he is writing fiction or nonfiction. He writes beautifully which is one of the reasons I loved his book "All the Light We Cannot See". I enjoyed the descriptive quality of his writing and I enjoyed his passion, not only for his writing and his family, but for all of his surroundings. ...more
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mmd-book-club
I really loved this book. And I loved the author's writing style... Yes, it is full of metaphors and yes, it is super discriptive and yes, there is a lot of detail, and yes, I thought it was wonderful. I've read some reviews stating some readers thought Doer's writing was so beautiful in the beginning, but by the end they felt it was just too much and they were over it. I really don't know how anyone could get sick of something so beautiful. Plus, I think the author is aware that there is potent ...more
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italy
What an absolutely beautiful, beautiful book. The writing was gorgeous and thoughtful, and the book as a whole is an exquisite love letter to Rome, one of my favorite cities in the world. I read this via audiobook (read by the author, and his narration was wonderful) and am definitely going to get a print copy as well so I can reread and linger over the beautiful sentences.
Roger DeBlanck
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, fiction
After receiving the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and with that prize 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 this unforgettable memoir, Four Seasons in Rome. It is a breathtaking book of mesmerizing observations and heartfelt ...more
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
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
It's clear Anthony Doerr is a talented writer. The man can craft a sentence, a paragraph. He can find metaphor in anything and describe it in interesting ways. At times, I found it delightful to read his turn of phrase. But as the book continued, it grew tiresome.

Not everything has to be described using flowery prose. In doing so, the truly special moments he experienced didn't rise above the rest. Maybe there was purpose in that?

I found myself wanting more from his interactions with people. He
Ishita Sood
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: italy
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! That being said, DO NOT EXPECT THIS
Garlan ✌
An excellent, excellent little gem of a book. "Four Seasons" is Doerr's account of the year he and his wife spent in Rome with newborn twins. The city and all its wonders are brought to life on almost every page, with descriptive details and a wonderful use of language that made me feel as if I were there also. There are brilliant writers who dazzle you with the scope and audacity of their work; Doerr, for me, is a beautiful writer who brings a new way of looking at the everyday things in life, ...more
Amy Kannel
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a memoir without a particularly profound story or driving sense of purpose--it works mainly because Doerr is an excellent writer. I enjoyed it for the appreciation of the craft as much as what he was actually writing about. But I did enjoy his sense of wonder, his observations of the ordinary/extraordinary in both Rome and parenthood. I'm sure I liked it better because I've been to Rome and have survived the newborn stage of parenthood (albeit not with twins and not in a foreign country! ...more
Madison Boboltz
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook throughout my trip to Italy. What really fascinated me though was learning about the early stages of him writing All the Light We Cannot See. When he talks about struggling to research and write the first draft while taking care of babies and living in a foreign country and not getting any sleep, I just wanted to go back in time and tell him “You can do it! You will win the Pulitzer!” 😂
Jan 24, 2008 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.
Oct 07, 2008 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 of sensuous description about everything from baby gear to street aroma. Luscious.
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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 ...more

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