Two-for-One Review: “The Enchantress of Florence” and “The Monster of Florence”

August 28, 2008 at 6:39 pm | Posted in Fiction, Nonfiction, Two-for-One Review | 2 Comments

Just in case you were getting confused by the similar titles of these two fascinating books, here’s a little something to set you straight.  (This reminds me of the Nurse’s line from Shakespeare in Love: “Verona again!”).

The Enchantress of Florence is the latest from Salman Rushdie, and it’s on the Booker Prize long list for 2008.  I think it’s got a good shot, though I haven’t read any of the other titles yet (not all are published yet, for one thing), partly because Rushdie has won before and partly because it’s that good.  It reads like a fairy tale, with sly commentary on religion, politics, the battle of the sexes, and the nature of life.  Rushdie’s Florence is lush, sensuous, and glittering.  It’s the Middle Ages in all their gory glory.

The Monster of Florence, on the other hand, is nonfiction.  I’d call it a true crime story, but that’s really only the first half of the book.  Similar to The Devil in the White City and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Monster of Florence will appeal to a broad range of readers.  True crime fans might even be somewhat disappointed, due to the lack of graphic photos and CSI-type detail.  The story is less about the crimes than about Florence itself, corruption, and freedom of the press.  What’ s unusual about the book is that the authors, Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, became involuntarily involved in the case, in a way that will amaze you more and more until the very last page.

Here are two tales of Florence, similar only in location, length, and page-turner appeal.



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  1. I’m currently struggling with The Enchantress of Florence…I’m getting bogged down in Rushdie’s endless sentences.

  2. Well, he’s not Hemingway, that’s for sure. I was just glad “Enchantress” was so much shorter than his other books, none of which I have read yet.

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