*Jumps straight in*
One of my favourite bookish genres is translated, whether fiction or non-fiction, I need it and I’ll read it. I think for me it is reading international voices and the ability to experience someone’s story that I may not have been able to otherwise. This is why, when Matt Clacher asked if any book bloggers were interested in the first three publications of new imprint (more about this in a bit) HarperVia, I stretched my hand up, telepathically asking (and in twitter words) to please pick me. Well here we are and the rest is history! Thanks Matt and of course Harper Via!
Right, HarperVia? Who are they? What do they do? Well let me tell you. The imprint of Harper Collins is headed by Judith Curr. Their aim is to publish 24 books a year, that are mostly fiction, mostly in translation, beginning in September – where Lost In The Spanish Quarter will be the first one. The first seven titles that HarperVia have to offer have already been selected and you can check out their translated smorgasbord here!
I finished Lost In The Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich in 24 hours – a day people! I couldn’t put it down, more about why later. This translated non – fictional novel will appeal to fans of Elena Ferrante and Jess Walter. Heddi Goodrich, is an American who studied in Naples before moving to New Zealand. She originally wrote Lost in the Spanish Quarter in Italian and translated it into English herself. How awesome is that?!
Several years after leaving Naples, Heddi receives and email from Pietro, her first love, admitting that he was wrong. Immediately, Heddi is transported back to her college days in that heartbreakingly beautiful city built on ruins and set against the cliffs of a sleeping volcano. Just the thought of the Spanish Quarter, the crumbling apartment she shared with friends and where she first met Pietro, still sparks the pain of longing and desire to belong.
For Heddi’s tribe of university friends, Naples was the first taste of freedom and an escape from their familial obligations. But for Heddi it is the place where she searched for her roots she never had, while Pietro tries to escape his. For all of them Naples is a place that they’ll never forget: the setting of their unrestrained youth.
We are finally at the part of this post where I can share my heart – filled bookish ramblings with you! I’d like to comment firstly about the beautiful way Heddi has written Lost In The Spanish Quarter; her visualisation ability when it came to imagery, characterisations and the emotions that radiated from her words are applaudable! I found myself completely immersed into Heddi and Pietro’s love affair, I was blown away by the undeniable passion and the nostalgia within the pages. The novel is written in a nostalgic fashion, with the narrative being split between the emails that Heddi exchanges with her past lover with in the present and her past experiences in Naples, their whirlwind romance and the crumbling, dripped to us in the most elegantly poetic fashion.
The characterisation within Lost in The Spanish Quarter are obviously non – fictional or closely based on the real individuals – either way it’s done so blooming well! Heddi comes across as the shy student, who is trying to look for her place in the world with an air of naivety – where young unquenched love is real and the perfect life is possible, just within reach. Heddi meets Pietro and quite frankly he got my feathers up quite quickly, to me he felt like a man who walks with a sense of entitlement that was quite sanctimonious. There was obviously a level of emotional inequality within the romantic relationship, which rears it’s head again through the emails – Pietro is motivated by money, his needs to have a career and to be respected, which would be impossible without bowing down to his fabulously rich parents. Whereas Heddi is motivated by her heart, what she feels is right and her longing to find a place she fits. A truly spectacular, heart captivating novel, we’ve all had that first love and Heddi Goodrich has constructed a novel that expresses the full emotive depth of that. (Argh, I truly loved everything about this book!)
I loved the inclusion of the email chapters, they highlighted and questioned everything that hadn’t been questioned in their youth. Heddi appeared stronger and more aware of her feelings which showed the level of maturing that had happened over the time period, she took her heart in her hands and it was brilliant! The emails from Pietro were written in the exact voice that I would have expected from him, the vocabulary used and the egotistical articulation – completely spot on.
This brilliant book is available this September, directly from Harper Collins here. It is the perfect holiday, beach, every type of the day read! One book in and I’m a HarperVia fan, my next read of theirs will be It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo. Check out my review next month!