The Romantic – a book review

Title: The romantic: Italian days and nights

Author: Kate Holden

Melbourne : Text Publishing, 2010

Katherine’s pick

This novel is the sequel to ‘In my skin: a memoir’, which was the first book that this talented Australian author wrote about her life as a student in Melbourne, and her subsequent battle with addiction.

Kate Holden, still a young woman, is a prodigious talent and her writing is both lyrical and arresting.  This next part of her memoir moves on from Melbourne to Rome in Italy,  where she flees to escape her chequered past.

With little money and knowing no one, she sets out to explore Rome and trace the literary giants of Rome past, such as the poets Shelley and Byron.  Holden has the ability to describe the colours and textures of ancient buildings and art works with the eye of an artist.  Similarly she can describe insightfully her feelings of aloneness and her see-sawing moods that swing between euphoria at finding herself in the eternal city of Rome,  whose beauty and mystery is world renowned and her  feelings of desperation.

As time passes she establishes friendships and romantic entanglements which she describes with searing honesty.  A constant theme throughout this memoir is her struggle to establish a sense of identity for herself  as she is plagued by self doubt constantly.

 Holden’s sense of fun and irony helps redeem this memoir from becoming a tale of angst and disappointment with the men she meets and becomes entangled with.  At the end she doesn’t find true love, but I got the sense that she found out how not to judge herself and in a sense love herself.