'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 ...Read More'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.Read Less
This was undoubtedly one of the funniest books I've read. Couldn't put it down, and ordered a couple extra copies to lend out. Well written. Took me back to the 60's and spending summers in Door County. Laughed so hard my stomach hurt!
Publishers Weekly, 1996-07-08 A boy's attempts to enjoy an Italian vacation are undermined by his family's strict religious views in Schaeffer's coming-of-age comedy. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1992-06-29 Sharply evocative sensuous descriptions heighten the splendor of the Italian Riviera in a beautifully written bildungsroman coming-of-age story set in the summers of 1962 and 1965. Calvin Becker, 10 years old at the start of this debut novel, and his family, American fundamentalist missionaries based in Switzerland, take 10 days every year to vacation on the Mediterranean, and these trips are the best part of Calvin's life. In Paraggi and Portofino he leaves behind the exaggerated piety of his home to bask in color and wonder. Amid his adventures Calvin confronts his mortification at the all-too-apparent differences between his family and those around them; issues of faith and tolerance; the gap between his parents' messages about charity and their marital difficulties; and his own first love--with Jennifer, a British girl who belongs to the Church of England. Writing in the first person, in the voice of the adult Calvin, Schaeffer captures the experience of boyhood with great insight and unselfconscious humor. At times distinctions between his narrator and the boy protagonist are imprecise, but this is a mere quibble with a convincing and often touching novel. (Sept.)
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