3.78 (637 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Some kids I met told lies to be special. I told lies to be normal...' It is the early 1960s and for young Calvin Becker, the son of embarrassingly over-zealous American missionaries, the family holiday in the Italian resort of Portofino is the highlight of the year. But even under the influence of the seductive Italian summer, the remaining members of Calvin's family seem incapable of ever really relaxing. His father is always slipping into one of his Bad Moods, his mother insists on trying to convert the 'pagans' on the beach. As for his sister Janet, she keeps a ski sweater and a Bible in her suitcase because you never knew when the Russians might invade and pack you off to Siberia. Calvin's dad says everything is part of God's Plan. But this particular summer, Calvin has a few plans of his own...plans that involve such exuberantly pagan locals as Gino the whisky-drinking painter, the Bagnino and his boats, the very sensible (and very English) Bazlinton family and, most of all, their very lovely daughter Jennifer. Deliciously observed and deliriously funny, PORTOFINO is a wry, affectionate and wonderfully sustained evocation of a time, a place and a particular point in a young person's life.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 126 x 192 x 24mm | 222.26g
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Black Swan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0552772879
  • 9780552772877

Review quote

" 'Eloquently captures the atmosphere of place and period... Schaeffer describes both the pleasures and the occasional torments of childhood with charm and humour...The warmth of characterisation is matched by the novel's rich evocation of Italian life, and the accuracy with which it captures the nuances of 1960s manners' - THE TIMES 'Evocative, funny and wonderfully observed, reading this book is a holiday in itself' - GUARDIAN 'Not since Huck Finn has American literature been graced with a character as irresistible as Calvin Dort Becker' - ANDRES DUBUS III 'Poignant and hilarious...by turns, sentimental, celebratory, evocative and very funny' - LOS ANGELES TIMES 'Beautifully written with great insight and unselfconscious humour' - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY"show more

About Frank Schaeffer

Born in 1952, Frank Schaeffer is a writer and film director whose parents were missionaries, who has lived in Switzerland and has holidayed on the Italian Riviera. He now lives in Massachusetts. Portofino was his first novel.show more

Rating details

637 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 26% (164)
4 39% (248)
3 25% (161)
2 8% (49)
1 2% (15)
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