Florence In Ecstasy // Jessie Chaffee
An American woman, Hannah, arrives in Florence from Boston on a mission of self healing and growth. She knows no one, and speaks very little Italian; however, Hannah has secluded herself in a more profound way. Estranged from her identity by an illness that has left her body in ruins.
During Hannah’s stay in Florence, she joins a rowing club, where a couple of the locals draw her into Florence’s vibrant present. She becomes enchanted with the lightness of life that Florence pulls her into, but she is also rapt by the city’s past: the representations of beauty, politics, faith, and the lore of the saints, whose self-inflicted isolation and dark histories illuminate Hannah’s own struggles. Both sides of Florence draw Hannah in, as she discovers herself, and tries to find the goodness of life and let go of her past.
(On sale May 16, 2017)
Thoughts // Review
I thought that this novel was beautifully written. Jessie Caffee is an incredible writer, and this was an amazing debut. I enjoyed that, although this is a literary fiction novel, it reads like a contemporary, without taking away from the whimsical and lyrical prose.
The way that Hannah’s illness is discussed throughout the book, allows complete empathy for her character. The author really allows the rawness of Hannah’s struggles to pour through the pages, and I personally loved this. As someone who has had the same struggles, this book was a very accurate representation of what it was like (for me), to suffer from an eating disorder (this is not a spoiler). I do know that mental illness is subjective, so not everyone may relate to the same story, but for me, this novel was a very accurate representation of what it is like to suffer from Anorexia.
I really enjoyed the setting: Florence. I felt like I was there, and I so badly wanted to be eating the same delicious food, as well as go to all of the adorable little cafes that Hannah would walk to for her daily lunch.
My only issue with this book, and I believe it to be solely a personal issue, is that there seemed to be some kind of awkward disconnect between myself as a reader, and the characters in the story (specifically Hannah); but, I will say, that I think that this also could mean that Jessie Chaffee is THAT good at creating the feeling of isolation that someone experiences when they are suffering from an eating disorder (or other various mental illnesses).
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
*Thank you very much, Unnamed Press, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*