• Only in Naples

  • Lessons in Food and Famiglia from My Italian Mother-in-Law
  • By: Katherine Wilson
  • Narrated by: Katherine Wilson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (207 ratings)

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Only in Naples  By  cover art

Only in Naples

By: Katherine Wilson
Narrated by: Katherine Wilson
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Publisher's summary

Full of lighthearted humor, sumptuous food, the wisdom of an Italian mother-in-law, and all the atmosphere of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, this warm and witty memoir follows American-born Katherine Wilson on her adventures abroad. Thanks to a surprising romance—and a spirited woman who teaches her to laugh, to seize joy, and to love—a three-month rite of passage in Naples turns into a permanent embrace of this boisterous city on the Mediterranean.

When I saw the sea at Gaeta, I knew that Naples was near and I was coming home.

“There is a chaotic, vibrant energy about Naples that forces you to let go and give in,” writes Katherine, who arrives in the city to intern at the United States Consulate. One evening, she meets handsome, studious Salvatore and finds herself immediately enveloped by his elegant mother, Raffaella, and the rest of the Avallone family. From that moment, Katherine’s education begins: Never eat the crust of a pizza first, always stand up and fight for yourself and your loved ones, and consider mealtimes sacred—food must be prepared fresh and consumed in compagnia. Immersed in Neapolitan culture, traditions, and cuisine, slowly and unexpectedly falling for Salvatore, and longing for Raffaella’s company and guidance, Katherine discovers how to prepare meals that sing, from hearty, thick ragù to comforting rigatoni alla Genovese to pasta al forno, a casserole chock-full of bacon, béchamel, and no fewer than four kinds of cheeses. The secret to succulent, tender octopus? Beat it with a hammer. 

While Katherine is used to large American kitchens with islands and barstools, she understands the beauty of small, tight Italian ones, where it’s easy to offer a taste from a wooden spoon. Through courtship, culture clashes, Sunday services, marriage, and motherhood (in Naples, a pregnancy craving must always be satisfied!), Katherine comes to appreciate carnale, the quintessentially Neapolitan sense of comfort and confidence in one’s own skin. Raffaella and her famiglia are also experts at sdrammatizzare, knowing how to suck the tragedy from something and spit it out with a great big smile. 

Part travel tale, part love letter, Only in Naples is a sumptuous story that is a feast for the senses. Goethe said, “See Naples and die.” But Katherine Wilson saw Naples and started to live. 

©2016 Katherine Wilson (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“In a world filled with food memoirs, this one stands out. Katherine Wilson gives us more than the fabulous food of Naples. She offers us a passport to an exotic country we would never be able to enter on our own.”—Ruth Reichl, author of My Kitchen Year

“Warmhearted . . . an exuberant account of love and great Italian food.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Sweet and humorous.”—Publishers Weekly

What listeners say about Only in Naples

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Enchanting mix of cultures and languages

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I’m an Italian reader and I must say that Katherine Wilson has done an amazing job, her characters and settings are so vivid and her Italian Neapolitan accent so spot on. And the mix of languages and cultures is so enjoyable.

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6 people found this helpful

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pleasantly surprised!

I got much more out of this book than I had anticipated. I was expecting this to just be an easy summer listen that would bring me a small piece of Italy while cooking or gardening. It was very much that; however, what I really enjoyed was the subtle, sweet life lessons entwined in each story. It was filled with small reminders to enjoy life and our loved ones, to quit over thinking and just eat already!

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5 people found this helpful

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Hilarious, even those that are not obsessed with Italy will love it

This book was absolutely the funniest book I’ve ever read. But when I started listening to it with me and also really enjoyed it and she’s not even particularly into reading travel logs like I am. The authors descriptions of the very funny differences between how Americans and Italians communicate, celebrate and so many other things is described with lots of humor.

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3 people found this helpful

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Quaint

What made the experience of listening to Only in Naples the most enjoyable?

Really enjoyed the food aspect of the story. Particularly like the author's relationship with her mother-in-law who was a great cook

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rachel

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2 people found this helpful

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Charming memoir, a listener's joy

Nothing prepared me for the pleasure of listening to this charming and intelligent young woman recount the story of her infatuation with Italy...and in particular, the family she met and married into... and, of course, the food! I found myself drawn into her adventure as to the most compelling tales, impressed by Katherine Wilson's power of observation, her humor, and her lovely and melodious voice--in English and Italian. In fact, her performance as narrator of her own story makes this Audible version far more entertaining, I think, than the print version. After all, Ms. Wilson is an actress and a singer, not only a fine writer, and it shows!

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A wonderful trip to Naples

What did you like best about this story?

An entertaining memoir about a young American's move to Sicily, adjustment to the complexity of Sicilian family life, and delicious food.

Which character – as performed by Katherine Wilson – was your favorite?

The author, a professional actress, does a great job. And of course her pronunciation of the Italian words cannot be faulted.

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Authentic, memorable, and a fun read!


This book brought me back to when I would visit my family in Naples.

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1 person found this helpful

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Best Italian Lessons ever!

Brilliant writing about food and family in Italy. I learned so much and found her way of translating very speaking! Wish there was more like this one!

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Great book. Best to listen to - not just read

What a wonderful story of life and living with a family in Naples. I felt like I was part of the family. Hearing the Neopolitan dialect was very special

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Romantic Romp Thru The Ragu of Family and Food in Napoli

Blends the ritualistic rigor of both into a righteous recipe laced with humor and trilling Italian and the dish served is sacred and sensual, in true Neapolitan nuance. Brava!

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