After reading the excellent Naples ’44, I was eager to read more by Norman Lewis. So when I was exploring my mum’s bookshelves the other day, I was pleased to find a dusty copy of I Came, I Saw, which I quickly saved from a life of being hidden behind many other dusty books. Naples ’44 means a lot to me because it was written about a time and place that was significant for my family. It is well written and honest. I’m glad to say that Lewis hadn’t lost his writing skills when he sat down to create this autobiography. (NOTE: I Came, I Saw is a republication of Jackdaw Cake, published in 1985 – I Came, I Saw has an extra fifty pages about Lewis’ time in South Italy in the 1960s and 1970s). Continue reading
My Neapolitan grandmother (or ‘nonna’ as the Italians would say) married a British officer posted in Naples in 1944. It is quite likely that Norman Lewis, an Intelligence Officer also there at that time, would have had to interview both of my grandparents to judge the suitability of the match. Marriage with Italian civilians was discouraged and lots of officers who applied for permission were turned down and sent away from Naples. So really, my grandparents were lucky.
I have always been interested in my grandmother’s home country and after her death a couple of years ago, I have only ever become more curious about the city she grew up in. After marrying my grandfather, she moved to England and only returned to Naples for holidays a couple of times a year. So when she told stories about Naples, it was always about the ‘old days’ before and during the Second World War. Continue reading