The Italian Lover

By Robert Hellenga (Trade Paperback, 2009)
Margot Harrington's memoir about her discovery in Florence of a priceless masterwork of Renaissance erotica--and the misguided love affair it inspired--is now, 25 years later, being made into a movie. Margot, with the help of her lover, Woody, writes a script that she thinks will validate her life. Of course their script is not used, but never mind--happy endings are the best endings for movies, as Margot eventually comes to see. At the former convent in Florence where "The Sixteen Pleasures"--now called "The Italian Lover,"--is being filmed, Margot enters into a drama she never imagined, where her ideas of home, love, art, and aging collide with the imperatives of commerce and the unknowability of other cultures and other people.

Margot Harrington's memoir about her discovery in Florence of a priceless masterwork of Renaissance erotica--and the misguided love affair it inspired--is now, 25 years later, being made into a movie. Margot, with the help of her lover, Woody, writes a script that she thinks will validate her life. Of course their script is not used, but never mind--happy endings are the best endings for movies, as Margot eventually comes to see. At the former convent in Florence where "The Sixteen Pleasures"--now called "The Italian Lover,"--is being filmed, Margot enters into a drama she never imagined, where her ideas of home, love, art, and aging collide with the imperatives of commerce and the unknowability of other cultures and other people.

Robert Hellenga received his B.A. from the University of Michigan and studied at Queen's University in Belfast and the University of North Carolina before completing a Ph.D. in English Literature at Princeton University. He is a professor at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and the author of the novels The Sixteen Pleasures, The Fall of a Sparrow, Blues Lessons, and Philosophy Made Simple.
  • "This being Italy, there are affairs, fiery outbursts and lots of rich food. This being Hellenga, the story is just a rich." (New York Times Book Review).

  • "His most remarkable achievement might be the one hiding in plain sight: He's that too-rare male novelist who can create and sustain deeply reflective female characters.... The Italian Lover draws you in with the brisk confidence and grace of Hellenga's writing" (Chicago Tribune).

  • "Hellenga tells a fast story and creates solid characters, but what is most memorable are the apt references to the arts...Art, literature, and film are alive for these characters, and the many specific references to them provide substance to the philosophical conundrums about life and art that the novel engages in its larger story." (Boston Globe).

  • "Robert Hellenga ...is a writer you should know. His fifth novel, "The Italian Lover," is satisfying in unexpected ways, a delicious departure from the weighty meals served up this season...marinated in wine, sex, even a little song.  Part of Hellenga's slyness is that he gradually fills in ...characters, like frescoes, until the reader can see how completely human they are.... the finish of this book is delectable, philosophical and just right." (Cleveland Plain Dealer).

  • (Library Journal).

Product Details

The Italian Lover
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Price: $14.99 US/$16.99 CAN
  • Pages: 368
  • Physical Dimensions: 5-1/2" x 8-1/4"
  • Audio Run Time: 0
  • ISBN-13: 9780316117654
  • On Sale Date: 02/09/2009
The Italian Lover