Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Thursday, May 28, 2015

In A Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love by Joseph Luzzi - Book Blog Tour Stop and Review

In A Dark Wood

About In A Dark Wood

• Hardcover: 224 pages
• Publisher: Harper (May 26, 2015)

In the aftermath of a heartbreaking tragedy, a scholar and writer uses Dante’s Divine Comedy to shepherd him through the dark wood of grief and mourning—a rich and emotionally resonant memoir of suffering, hope, love, and the power of literature to inspire and heal the most devastating loss.

Where do we turn when we lose everything? Joseph Luzzi found the answer in the opening of The Divine Comedy: “In the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood.”

When Luzzi’s pregnant wife was in a car accident—and died forty-five minutes after giving birth to their daughter, Isabel—he finds himself a widower and first-time father at the same moment. While he grieves and cares for his infant daughter, miraculously delivered by caesarean before his wife passed, he turns to Dante’s Divine Comedy for solace.

In a Dark Wood tells the story of how Dante helps the author rebuild his life. He follows the structure of The Divine Comedy, recounting the Inferno of his grief, the Purgatory of healing and raising Isabel on his own, and then Paradise of the rediscovery of love.

A Dante scholar, Luzzi has devoted his life to teaching and writing about the poet. But until he turned to the epic poem to learn how to resurrect his life, he didn’t realize how much the poet has given back to him. A meditation on the influence of great art and its power to give us strength in our darkest moments, In a Dark Wood opens the door into the mysteries of Dante’s epic poem. Beautifully written and flawlessly balanced, Luzzi’s book is a hybrid of heart-rending memoir and critical insight into one of the greatest pieces of literature in all of history. In a Dark Wood draws us into man’s descent into hell and back: it is Dante’s journey, Joseph Luzzi’s, and our very own.

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My Thoughts:

I absolutely fell in awe of this memoir.  Joseph Luzzi's style of writing pulls the reader into his dramatic and tragic story but leave you feeling uplifted and inspired at the conclusion.

I can't imagine the pain of losing a spouse - but Luzzi's comparison to the classic "The Divine Comedy" by Dante is the perfect way to describe the agony of loss and the gradual recovery process that brings you back to life, battered but still fighting the good fight! 

If you've experienced loss, intense grief, and the battle of returning to a new normal, you will commiserate with this brilliantly written story. "In A Dark Wood" is, by far, one of the most intense and interesting books I've had the pleasure of reading this year.  I highly recommend it.

About Joseph Luzzi

Joseph Luzzi
Joseph Luzzi holds a doctorate from Yale and teaches at Bard. He is the author of My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Find out more about Joseph at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

My thanks to the author for the review copy of this book and to TLC Book Tours for including me in this tour.  I was not compensated for my opinion.

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1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Dante does seem to be the perfect companion for tragedy. This sounds like an incredibly moving read. Thanks for being a part of the tour!