Tuesday, May 26, 2015

In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love by Joseph Luzzi

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

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.

my thoughts:

Wow! Talk about the perfect literary memoir!  In a Dark Wood is both emotionally and academically compelling. This book takes a truly unique look at the themes of loss and love via Dante's epic poem, The Divine Comedy.  Mired deep in grief, Luzzi finds solace in the opening line, "In the middle of our life's journey, I found myself in a dark wood."  Having just lost his wife, who gave birth to their daughter right before she died, Luzzi was most definitely in a place of darkness.  How could he not be?  He became a father and widow on the same day.  One can only imagine the flood of emotions piercing through Luzzi that horrible day.  Its beyond heartbreaking.  Family and friends surrounded him and provided the love and support he needed to get through this hellish nightmare. As he struggled to process everything, he found himself turning to the written word for solace.  He was living in hell and found himself thinking of Dante (the Italian poet he'd studied and written about for years.)  The words from Dante's epic poem, The Divine Comedy, spoke to him.  He allowed the words to sit and settle and rattle around in his head, where he could parse through them slowly and fully grasp their meaning (or at least what they meant to him in that moment).  Yes, he would still grieve, but he would not surrender to the sadness that enshrouded him.  He knew that he had to climb out of this hell - not just for himself, but for his daughter as well.  And so he did - one day at a time.

In a Dark Wood is a powerful and beautifully written story.  A combination of the personal and the literary, this book is a mesmerizing read.   I found myself crying one minute and then being awed the next when Luzzi the Dante scholar would begin analyzing and applying The Divine Comedy to his own personal hell.   Exploring the concepts of man and father not only displayed Luzzi's academic mind in action, but also reminded us how much he was struggling with his new role as a dad. I was fascinated and thrilled at the clarity, strength, and hope gained through this poem. This book was truly a thought-provoking read.  I absolutely loved  In a Dark Wood and would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone looking for a great new read (especially fans of nonfiction and academia.) 

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: In a Dark Wood
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!


Becca said...

Fantastic review, Nadia!

Nadia said...

Thanks, Becca!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

This sounds like an incredible read, and one that would earn a treasured place on my shelf. I'm glad you loved it! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Nadia said...

Heather, it really is. Thanks so much for having me on this tour - I loved the book!

Lisa said...

Sounds wonderful. I'm definitely going to want to pick this up.