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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Wedding Officer: A Novel (Bantam Discovery)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I picked this up expecting a romance (based on the cover and title)....and my expectations for romances are no longer that high- having read more than my share of them. However, this is a wonderful book that anyone would enjoy- men and women alike.

There is a wonderful love story, but also a lot of humor, and what I like the best- was that you learn so much about conditions in WWII, volcanoes, and Italian food.

In short, very well researched, and very well written- a book I could not put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I've read this year. It contains all my favorite things - Italy, romance, humor, food, and good writing. It was easy to become immersed in this rich tale and swept away with all the wonderful descriptions of food and survival in war torn Naples. The backdrop of Mt. Vesuvius is interesting and informative. I adored "Gems" and Livia as the hero and heroine. Can't wait to read another book by this author.
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Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
After reading "The Various Flavors of Coffee" by Anthony Capella I was determined to track down and read any other historica novels he may have written. After all, you should never let a good author go, should you?

I was not only pleasantly surprised but stunned with Capella's second novel, "The Wedding Officer" about a young British soldier named James Gould who has the unhappy task of evaluating the fiancés of British soldiers and making sure they were fit to marry them (ie-that they weren't prostitutes. Which most were considering how very few money making opportunities for women there were in Allied occupied Naples.) But James runs into a conflict of interest when a casual encounter with a young Italian widow named Livia leads to her employment as the barracks cook-and he finds himself falling under the spell of food and love and Italy itself.

This book goes way beyond that-it covers the Allied occupation of Naples, many battles with Germany, communists and allied cooperation, and a devastating and terrible eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. In some ways, especially towards the end, this is very much a war novel, but before that it has its funny, sensual, beautiful, and mouth watering moments. Believe when I say parts of this book will leave you very, very hungry for Italian food. And then there's the obvious food/sex comparison which this book makes the very most of.

When I read the "about the author" at the end of the book it didn't surprise me that Capella's first book was being made into a movie and that "The Wedding Officer" might be as well. It's just the kind of book that leaves you with such clear visual impressions that you couldn't help but imagine a movie through the entire read. I had the same experience with "The Various Flavors of Coffee."

This novel is written entirely in third person, unlike "The Various Flavors of Coffee" which is a memoir that has some patches of third person but is mostly in first. Most of the time I have a definite preference as to what person an author should write in-what makes them write best-but Capella seems to be a switch hitter, he can write in either person and have the words come out just as magically.

Obviously there are comparisons between "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" and "The Wedding Officer" but the only thing I can add to whatever discussion there is about the differences and similarities between the two these two books is that I once tried to read the former and couldn't get past page 50 and I couldn't have put down the latter if I tried.

This is a book you can't help but enjoy, even though it has its moments of horror (it set in a war zone.) I couldn't put it down once I started it and had it all wrapped up within two days. Now I guess I just have to go after Capella's first novel, even if it's not historical.

I seem to be giving a lot of five star reviews lately. Maybe I'm being more discerning in my choices, maybe I have a book fairy watching over me, or maybe I just know that when I love one book by an author, I'll probably love another.

Five stars.
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Format: Hardcover
With World War II nearing an end, finding decent food in Naples is challenging and people are going to great lengths in order to eat and have basic luxuries. In light of these issues it's become necessary for the government to assign an officer specifically to try to discourage marriages between officers and their Italian girlfriends. Many woman have turned to prostitution and view marrying an officer as a means to escape their hardships so it's the Wedding Officers job to be sure that each female vying for marriage be suitable and of good character.

Captain James Gould has been assigned to Naples as the new Wedding Officer. Of course he doesn't know anything about this esteemed position until after his arrival. He quickly becomes aware of all sorts of illegal activities that nobody is doing anything to stop. His efforts to bring the lawbreakers to justice and stop the pilfering of supplies is not appreciated and he finds himself struggling to do what he believes is right in an environment where the lines between right and wrong are extremely blurred.

Livia Pertini is a talented chef who is capable of making culinary wonders with very limited ingredients. Circumstances have left her a young widow with an extremely determined admirer. Her high morals won't allow her to take the easy route and resort to selling her own body in exchange for food and comfort so she leaves her home and small village and goes in search of work in the city of Naples. Because of her cooking skills she quickly finds herself a job cooking delicacies for the Allied officers.

James is enchanted not just by the delectable food coming from the kitchen but also by the lovely young woman who takes such pride in each and every item she creates. Over the course of time his feelings for her begin to war with his duties as `the Wedding Officer.' Will James be able to reconcile that he himself has given into the allure of an Italian woman - the very thing he's supposed to be discouraging?

Anthony Capella gives readers a taste of a bygone era with his novel THE WEDDING OFFICER. While this book wasn't at all what I was expecting when I picked it up I found a great deal of enjoyment in the variety of characters and the many situations each of them encounter. While there are many instances of war induced tragedies that break your heart, there are lots of glimpses of t he beauty and hope that thrives despite the horrors of the time. Combine that with all the talk of authentic Italian foods and their preparation and you have a book that may tempt even the most hardened junk food addict to throw away the boxed meals and give real food a try.

Chrissy Dionne (courtesy of Romance Junkies)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a step-up from your average beach read and more substantial than chick-lit. History, romance and great food all weave together for a highly enjoyable reading experience... as my Italian grandmother would say, "Try it, you'll like it!"
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on January 10, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This novel is set during WWII in Italy, and starts with Livia, a talented cook who works at her family's small osteria in a village near Mt. Vesivius. She is charmed by an Italian soldier and agrees to marry him. They arrive in Naples to live with his family. When he is shipped out and the bombing begins to become terrible along with the shortages, Livia returns to her village. To escape a local thug who sets the Allied authorities on her family when Livia refuses him, and to find out what has happened post occupation, she returns to Naples, only to find that her husband has been killed in action and his family has been killed in a bombing. She struggles to find any work in the town other than the prevalent prostitution. In the meantime, James is an English officer, recently posted to Naples at the joint American/British headquarters. He is to take over the position of "Wedding Officer" to review potential marriages between British soldiers and Italian ladies and is to discourage/delay/deny as many as possible. James is somewhat shocked by the layers of bribery and unofficial channels, but is finally swayed when the locals arrange for Livia to take the job as cook for the unit. James gradually falls in love with the Italian food, the Italian landscape, and most importantly, Livia. While the story follows the "boy meets girl, falls in love, loses girl" storyline, there are some interesting twists and turns along the way. Livia is a strong willed woman and is no shrinking violet. She takes charge of her own destiny and finds her way.
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on August 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Captain James Gould of the British military has been sent to Naples on an unusual duty. He is to stop marriages between Allied soldiers and Italian women (most of whom have turned to prostitution in order to survive during the war), as the British army feels that these marriages will distract the soldiers from performing their military duties.

Despite the unusual ways in which Naples works (black market activities and bribes are common), James still feels that this a straightforward mission and he sets forth to deny applications which he does with efficiency...until the beautiful Livia Pertini becomes his cook. From her, he learns the seductive beauty of both Italian food and Italian women and is no longer sure of where he stands in regards to his role in Naples and his feelings towards this beautiful country and its people.

This is a memorable glimpse into Naples during World War II. Prior to reading this novel, I had no idea of the extent of the hardships that the citizens faced and the decisions they were forced to make just to survive. This is detailed very well in the novel with all the emotions coming through clearly. Anthony Capella ties food in as a major theme in each of his novels and in this book, food and cooking are often equated with sex, sometimes in a humourous manner and sometimes in darker situations. The descriptions of the food and landscapes are excellent and give a real flavour of Naples. A gread read about food, love, and war.
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VINE VOICEon December 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
In my opinion, this books is more a romance with food. The plot is interesting though. It's about an English officer, James Gould, who is supposed to dissuade soldiers from marrying Italian girls because most of them have turned into prostitutes due to the war. But predictably, he falls in love with Livia Petrini, a cook extraordinaire. There's always something about forbidden love that is appealing. Of course the war is one of the villains in the story and I found out things I didn't know about such as the Allies using women with syphilis to infect the Germans. I thought that was despicable. The story is not shallow though as it touches on situations that are raw and it presents points-of-view from both the Allies and the German side. What I didn't like about the story is when Livia turned into a communist after she escaped from being shipped to the Germans as a prostitute. I think it would have been more believable if she just went home. There was also a side trip into espionage I guess to make the story more interesting. But all in all it was a good read and well-written. The mouth-watering dishes and the scenic Italian landscape were pluses.
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on January 27, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I decided to buy the kindle edition of this book after reading the first chapters of an Spanish Edition. The book promised a good dosis of drama and it seemed like a good investment. Then the book turned tedious--repeating the sex episodes once and again, and comparing them once and again to italian cooking. Soon it sounded like one of those romantic/sexual novels like "Velvet seduction" or "Night of romance" etc. I thought this was a serious book and it ended being something else--I didn't even want to continue reading and I didn't waste my time by finishing it. The Wedding Officer
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on April 7, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I loved Corelli's Mandolin, and this book is true to Mr Capella's style. Written with great accuracy of historical events, knowledge of the Napolitano culture, and political workings of wartime Naples and Southern Italy. I found his sensitivity to the people of Naples in survival mode to be especially helpful in drawing the reader into the book. My only disappointment, as I had with Corelli as well, is that the last two pages kind of peter out as if to say "it all ends well, they're happy, see you next novel" Which, by the way, I will certainly read :0).
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