The Volcano Lover follows the fortunes of a British ambassador, the ravishing woman he marries, and the young British admiral with whom she falls in love.
Set in 18th-century Naples and based on the lives of Sir William Hamilton, his celebrated wife Emma, and Lord Nelson, the novel is peopled with many of the great figures of the day. This unconventional, best-selling historical romance from the National Book Award-winning author of In America touches on themes of sex and revolution, the fate of nature, art and the collector's obsessions, and, above all, love.
©1992 Susan Sontag (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"A panoramic, passionately feminist examination of the changing shape of Western civilisation since the Age of Enlightenment. Sontag's book is a sweeping, exquisitely detailed picture of Europe in the final decades of the eighteenth century." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"The Volcano Lover is a great novel. It repeatedly scales heights of complex thought, passion and expression that few American writers ever approach, while reimagining a majestic love story in dazzling style." (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Hardly digressions, Sontag's many aesthetic speculations wonderfully enhance the plot. A fine novel of ideas, this is sure to please venturesome readers of historical romance as well." (Library Journal)
author of The Roman Mysteries & others
The "Volcano Lover" of the title is Sir William Hamilton, the envoy from England to Naples in the late 18th century. He is a collector and scholar, and soon fascinated by Vesuvius looming across the Bay. He makes many excursions up its flanks and watches when it erupts. The story really kicks in during part two when he meets Emma. She becomes his wife and soon Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson's mistress. Some brilliant descriptions of Naples under the French, life at sea and the fascinating passion of big Emma and little Nelson for each other, and their affection for her husband. The quirky style never explicitly names the main characters but calls Hamilton "The Cavaliere", Emma "The Cavaliere's Wife" and Nelson "The Hero". Sontag's staccato style takes a little getting used to but is worth the effort. Apart from some mispronunciations, Jennifer Van Dyck reads very well.
Couldn't get through the first chapter due to the ponderous and overwrought narration. Absolutely terrible. I suspect it's a good book when not read with random, pregnant pauses in every sentence.
"Enthralling. Impossible to remove my headphones."
Sontag gripped me. What do I love? History. Edgy. Thoughtful. Surprises. Romance. This delivered all beyond my expectations. I am still tingling and feel a sense of abandonment one feels when a great "read" ends.
Naples. Evocative descriptions. Art. Furious and spot-on conclusion that is literally the best conclusion of any novel ever - bar none - even my great beloveds of the Brontes, Wilkie Collins, Tolstoy, James. This is a great great read.
Van Dyck is obliged to capture a variety of narrators: male and female, living and dead, and she nails them all. Her voice is like burnt caramel. I felt like Sontag was there, and I spoke to her. Van Dyck has her round tones and deep power.
She needs some work on Italian names, but I gave her 5 stars because I am still a true fan and would acquire any audiobook by her.
The ending was like a punch in the chest and I love it completely.
I had the audiobook of Sontag's other novel, In America, and it was a love hate. The audio book was great, but the writing pissed me off for the first third. Afterwards, she redeemed herself and I was content. I had moderate expectations of this novel, and, from the beginning was flabbergasted. I never wanted to do anything other than listen. It is a great great work. This production is so worthy of a remarkable piece of writing.
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