Italy in Books - See Naples and Die by Penelope Green

Set in Naples, See Naples and Die is the story of Australian journalist Penelope Green's adventures as she moves from Rome to her new home, in search of a new life and the one thing missing - gainful employment.

What follows is a description of culture shock and true friendship as she adapts to living in the noisy heart of Naples. She befriends her landlord, tries (and fails) to impress the local men with her cooking, all while constantly looking over her shoulder for thieves and motorcycled muggers.

See Naples and Die is a combination of travel-writing and story-telling. Initially, I found it to be a little too much on the outside, constantly criticizing the locals and their supposed fatalistic attitude. However, as soon as I was beginning to find this really annoying (so much so that I almost stopped reading) she began to concentrate a little more on the smaller things in life, and her personal adventure in particular. I found this quite rewarding as she took me on her journey from being very much an outsider to understanding and assimilating somewhat into the local scene and culture.

I liked See Naples and Die, but only after I finished it. A large section of the book was devoted to a fascination with the camorra (the mafia), but didn't seem to go into any real detail and to my mind didn't really add anything to the book.  However, I did enjoy reading the book and I certainly don't think it's badly written, just perhaps a little dull (to my taste) in places. I'd be tempted to read some of her other books, but, while See Naples and Die was an okay read, I couldn't say that can I recommend it.

See Naples and Die is published by Hachette Australia and should be available in all good book shops (or can be bought from Amazon in the UK here).

The other May reviews in the Italy in Books challenge can be found here.


  1. I think I will give this a miss then, but you have reminded me I need to write my own review for the Italy in Books Challenge for this month yet!

  2. Too bad because the book cover and synopsis alone would have enticed me to read it. But I have such a long list of books I wish to read that I think I will pass this one.

  3. Thanks for your comments guys. I've heard her first book, 'When in Rome' is better. If I can find it I'll post a review.

  4. I'm looking for fiction or memoir based in Naples, so it's too bad this wasn't as good as the title might lead you to believe. Thanks for the review!

  5. Hey Food Lover Kathy, thanks for your comment! An excellent book set in Naples during the war is Naples 44, which is an autobiographical account by Norman Lewis. It's definitely worth checking out (I reviewed it in March -

  6. Good way to prepare if you're planning to move to Naples for a while.