When Dan Brown came out with his latest thriller “The Inferno,” there was no question; I had to read it. It isn’t that I am a Dan Brown fan, but over the past year I have become obsessed with Dante. He is considered the father of the Italian language and rightfully so. Long before Shakespeare or Milton, Dante composed 14,000 lines of the most complex, relevant yet beautiful poetry ever to be written. One of the many phenomenal aspects of this poem is that it was written in the common tongue, Italian. He established Italian as more than just vulgarized Latin proving it to be the most lyrical of all language.
So when I began Brown’s book I feared the damage he would do. What was he going to get wrong? What was he going to mischaracterize? In the end, I would have been happy if this simply spurred others to read and appreciate Dante. Well, even at my age life has its surprises. Now I am not saying that this is “Anna Karenina,” but it is a fun read. Did he get some things wrong? Absolutely! It is easy to look past that, however, and just enjoy a real page-turner, especially for those of us who love Florence and Dante.
What I came to realize is that Brown’s books are really travel journals wrapped in a mystery, which is not a bad thing when you consider that his books usually take place in Italy. Most of the action happens in Florence and Venice, two of the cities with which I became familiar on an ExperiencePlus tour. As I read through the book I thought, “I know how they are going to get out of this one.” Other times I would think, “Well it is obvious he must be talking about….” Of course I would then be hooked and I would have to read the next 30 or 40 pages before bed.
If you are familiar with Florence or Venice, most of this book will be a lot of fun. It will bring back memories of two of the most fascinating cities on Earth. If you are planning to travel to one of these cities then you have to read this book before you leave. It will give you pointers on places to visit as well as background information that you won’t find in your average guide book.
So, do not abandon all hope ye who are looking for some enjoyable summer reading. There is hope, Dan Brown’s “Inferno.”