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The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard
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The Bay of Noon (1970)

by Shirley Hazzard

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incredible writing, family issues, war, love story
  mtnmamma | Dec 19, 2013 |
  anzlitlovers | Jan 1, 2012 |
I read this novel during the late summer of 2008. In it a young English woman living in Naples in the aftermath of World war II meets an Italian writer. A simple enough encounter, and it leads to a friendship with both the writer, felicitously named Gioconda, and the writer's lover Gianni, a Roman film director. This book is short, yet far from simple as the encounter contrasts both the trio and a fourth person, a Scotsman named Justin, and highlights the background of each of the characters as their lives are woven together. Shirley Hazzard demonstrates here the style that would lead to her award-winning novel, The Transit of Venus, a decade later.

In The Bay of Noon we have a simple story that is made large through the novelist's deft phrases and characterization. Notably the city of Naples itself becomes an important character reacting with and in turn influencing the life of young Jenny. Each of the lives are portrayed with an arc that is believable and, in part, tragic as life can sometimes be. The journey depicted is one of beauty and ultimate satisfaction for the reader.

The Bay of Noon was a National Book Award finalist (Fiction, 1971). Shirley Hazzard was married to the noted biographer Francis Steegmuller who died in 1994. I have previously read and enjoyed The Transit of Venus, Hazzard's masterful family saga that was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 1980. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Sep 3, 2008 |
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Epigraph
To bless this region, its vendages, and those
Who call it home: though one cannot always
Remember exactly why one has been happy,
There is no forgetting that one was.

W.H. Auden, Good-bye to Mezzogiorno
Dedication
For Francis

and

for my Mother
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A military plane crashed that winter on Mount Vesuvius.
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Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
The scene is Naples, against whose fading grandeur the contemporary action takes place. The central character is Jenny, on the run from a sombre family drama in Africa, unaware that a larger emotional drama awaits her in Italy. Under the heady influence of the city, the ambivalent cpmpanionship of a dour Scotsman, and her friendship with a more worldy Italian couple, Jenny slowly finds that life is demanding a more active role than she had intended taking. By the prize-winning author of The Transit of Venus, The Bay of Noon is a subtle, graceful and memorable novel about the changing face of love.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312422873, Paperback)

Long out of print, Shirley Hazzard's classic novel of love and memory

A young Englishwoman working in Naples, Jenny comes to Italy fleeing a history that threatened to undo her. Alone in the fabulously ruined city, she idly follows up a letter of introduction from an acquaintance and so changes her life forever. Through the letter, she meets Giocanda, a beautiful and gifted writer, and Gianni, a famous Roman film director and Giocanda’s lover. At work she encounters Justin, a Scotsman whose inscrutability Jenny finds mysteriously attractive. As she becomes increasingly involved in the lives of these three, she discovers that the past--and the patterns of a lifetime--are not easily discarded.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:16 -0400)

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