Friday, June 12, 2015


CAPRI: ISLAND OF PLEASURE, by James Money, was a delight from start to finish. I've never visited Capri, but it hardly matters. I'm sure the Capri of today bears little resemblance to the strange enclave of expat eccentrics that is portrayed in Money's marvelous history. It's especially interesting in documenting the ways in which these eccentrics chose to live their lives (while on Capri) and living freely in ways that were not permitted by the laws of their native countries. That gay men and women (for example) were happy to live their lives openly even in the late 19th century, as long as they were in an environment that enabled them to do so, shows they would easily have done the same back home if the social constraints were not in place. It also makes me wish to seek out a number of other books, mainly works of fiction, related to the same subject and written by the eyewitnesses who were there (but who fictionalized everything and everyone to avoid libel) -- VESTAL FIRE by Compton Mackenzie, EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN by Compton Mackenzie, and SOUTH WIND by Norman Douglas. Then perhaps someday, if I ever visit Capri, I can use my imagination to conjure up what it must have been like just over 100 years ago, before the wars and before the movie stars.