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An Italian Affair Hardcover – May 29, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (May 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375420657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375420658
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When her husband of one year left her for an old girlfriend, Fraser (Losing It: False Hopes and Fat Profits in the Diet Industry), in her mid-30s and suddenly alone, was devastated. In a state of shock, she decided to take a trip to Italy. Finding no solace with friends in Florence, she traveled to the island of Ischia, where she met M., a married university professor from France with whom she began a casual affair that continued on and off for the next two years. In this gentle memoir, she tells of her rendezvous with her lover in Milan, Lago Maggiore, London, the Aeolian Islands, Morocco and her own city, San Francisco all the places where they carried on their fairy-tale romance, enjoying beautiful scenery, languorous days in the sun, fabulous meals and good sex. The professor, a man of the world who took such liaisons casually, had an easy, humorous, slightly mocking manner that was just what she needed to help her recover from her broken heart. There were no expectations beyond having a good time. "It's simple," he told her. "All you need is an older man who can handle you, who will take care of you, who will love to have sex with you." What M. offered Fraser was far more satisfying and restorative than the psychologically complicated relationships she found in the San Francisco singles scene. Eventually, she was able to get her groove back and even forgive her husband. Writing in the second person, Fraser steps back and looks at the experience without sentimentality, recounting a tender story that gives hope to women with broken hearts. Agent, Sarah Lazin.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

After her husband leaves her for his high school sweetheart, freelance writer Fraser (Vogue, Glamour, Self, the San Francisco Examiner Magazine) takes off to Italy to gain a new perspective on her life. There she unexpectedly meets M. (as he is known throughout the book), a married French aesthetics professor, and begins an affair of a lifetime. Often reading like a romance novel, this beautiful tale of self-discovery is purposefully written in the second person so that readers can feel as if they are a part of the story. Fraser alternates chapters between San Francisco (home) and exotic locations like Milan, Morocco, or the Aeolian Islands, where she rendezvous with M., taking her audience on a journey from heartbreak to new love to self-understanding and spiritual revival. In the end, she triumphs by restoring the naturally lively self that was abruptly silenced by the break-up with her husband. Part travelog, part memoir, and part love story in the most traditional sense, this highly personal, honest, funny, and charming account is a joy to read. Essential for all public libraries.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

I'm a longtime freelance writer, San Franciscan, and literature junkie. I'm excited about my new book, All Over the Map, which is a memoir about what happens in midlife when things don't exactly go as planned--and you take a few plane trips to figure out how to come to terms with that, learning a lot of other life lessons along the way. The book is, in some ways, a sequel to my bestselling memoir, An Italian Affair. People who loved that book (thank you for so many of your kind letters!) will see what happens next in All Over the Map. Unlike An Italian Affair, this book isn't written in the second person ("you") but the first person ("I"), so I won't have to answer quite so many questions about why I wrote it that way.

I make my living as a writer, mostly doing personal essays, travel, and food articles for magazines, along with the occasional piece of more serious journalism. I have a passion for good writing, and appreciate writers who are simple, clear, and funny. My model and mentor as a writer is William Zinsser, who wrote On Writing Well, along with a lot of other great books about writing. I recommend that if you are interested in writing you read his books.

I have a website ( and a blog (, as well as a list of all the books I've read since I was 13 years old ( I love having this list and suggest that if you're a reader, you create, one, too. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. It's never too late.

I divide my time between San Francisco and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (both 415 area codes, weirdly). I feel blessed to be able to read and travel and write and have so many wonderful friends around the world.

Customer Reviews

The book is written in the second person (the same tense that you wrote this book review in).
Ian Kaplan
The underlying story of Laura's abandonment by her husband and the way in which this affair helped her heal gives weight to the narrative.
A reader
Laura Fraser's autobiographical memoir of finding love in the most wonderful of places (literally!)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on July 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Forget Fodor's -- An Italian Affair is the best guidebook to Italy ever! I was totally mesmerized by Laura Fraser's descriptions of Italy (and beyond), its landscape, city life and food. Reading this book was just as good as being there -- and the fairy tale romance was the "cherry on top of the cherry on top of the sundae."
Written as a travel memoir, I was a bit surprised that An Italian Affair turned out to be a true story. It sounded like such a great fiction novel, so knowing this story actually happened to someone made it all the more incredible. Laura Fraser's story begins when her husband of one year dumps her for his high school sweetheart. Devastated, Laura decides to visit her friends for a therapeutical trip in Italy. Exploring one of the outer islands, Ischia, on her own one day, Laura crosses paths with her destiny. M., a dashing Frenchman, on a vacation of his own, finds Laura having breakfast in the same hotel, and from there a spectacular romantic rendez-vous ensues.
M.'s and Laura's love affair is at once sweet and nurturing, but also has magical healing powers. Since meeting M., Laura's post-divorce depression has had a back-burner storyline in her life, and through M., Laura has been able to become the independent, strong woman she thought she had lost for good. Endearing and smart, An Italian Affair is a wonderful testimony of being a woman, falling in love and getting back your life. Highly recommended for a fabulous, quick read.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As short at this book was (easy to finish in two days), I found myself increasingly eager to be done with it, despite the lure of Italy (which I love) and other exotic locations. Not least of my objections was the annoying present tense, second person narrative, which only added to the sense of being a participant in a rather shallow woman's self-indulgence. (An aesthetic sense and love of la dolce vita do not in themselves add up to depth.) Nor could I be particularly sympathetic to a woman with endless leisure and money to find herself (she mentions money being tight at times, but this is obviously relative, as she can fly to London or Italy or Morocco when the whim takes her), who in her late 30s still seems to think that loveless sex is a path to happiness, or who fails to realize that(despite the lulling effects of the romantic locations)trading sexual intimacies with men she's known less than a day (as she does in Stroboli)is not only stupid but dangerous. The fact that the book masquerades as some kind of inner journey only makes it all the more sad. The characters all play the same sexual games, hurting each other in the process and seem in the end as lonely as they began. The fact that (some)Europeans play the game with more grace and, frequently, more kindness than Americans does not detract from its ultimate emptiness.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
Yes, it's a travel guide that gives the reader insights to places in Italy that are not on the usual tourist stops. Actually, it's easy to understand why. I liked that. But no, I couldn't get drawn into the intent of the author for her memoir to be seen as her recovery of self by having an affair with a Frenchman. She's also a little too easily flattered by the attentions of two Italian men she bumps into in Stromboli. This book has more the tinge of a college girl's traipse through Europe than a mature woman's escape to self-discovery.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Karen E. Risch on June 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Someone once said that we vacation to take a break from ourselves, but Laura Fraser's novel shows how travel can actually help us uncover who we really are. I read this memoir over the weekend and felt as if I'd gone on a brief adventure myself. Although I'm happily married, I could completely relate to the author's sense of loss and confusion post-divorce, and also to the sense of empowerment (and mild surprise) she felt as she met men who found her attractive and finally one she was interested in, too. More important, regardless of the fellas in the book, Laura Fraser stands on her own as an interesting, mature (I mean that in a good way), REAL character in this novel, absent perfect bodies or hair or clothes or the right thing to say all the time. But the book is still eminently sexy because you can easily put yourself into Ms. Fraser's well-traveled shoes. It's a quick read, a combination travelogue, love story, and girl-power piece, perfect for a little getaway of your own.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sammy Madison on May 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book was great for me because the author wrote loving, detailed descriptions of the places she went, the food she ate, and the people she met. Her husband, who she thought was the love of her life, left her after only a year of marriage, in a nasty, hurtful way. She left San Francisco to spend time in Italy to distract herself from thinking about her marriage, and to avoid meeting her ex with his new wife in their old haunts. How many of us have fantisized about escaping to a beautiful place to lick our wounds in similar situations. Of course Laura was going to find an Italian man to help get her over her emotional hurt, but the man she settled on... I can't help thinking she could have done better. What bothers me is not that "M" was a married man with kids, it's that he was gross, and a user. She described him smoking stinky cigarettes and smelling like cigars. Yuk. He's a nasty arrogant middle-aged Parisian, not even a romantic young hunk. But the story of getting over a broken heart, and the romance of beautiful places, appeals to me greatly.
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