In this book, we get the story of Graham Greene’s various trips, stays, and excursions on the island of Capri. This is all told from the perspective of Shirley Hazzard, friend to Greene. Shirley Hazzard’s connection to Greene come through her older husband Francis Steegmuller, some 25-30 years her elder, as the two of them would join Graham Greene and various other friends (most of whom were a generation or two older than Hazzard) on Capri.
For the most part, there’s no story here. Almost at all. Instead, there’s a series of reminiscences and anecdotes, and more than anything there’s a light general reading on Greene’s writing and career in conjunction with his biography.
I think you have to like Graham Greene to like this book. I like Graham Greene and I mostly like this book. It’s fine, but it’s not super insightful. What it will do for me is cause me to pick up more books by Shirley Hazzard (I have only read one before) and certainly some more Graham Greene (I have read five or so of his books).
All in all, I liked this, but it doesn’t have a ton to say about Graham Greene. Part of the issue is that it doesn’t seem like Shirley Hazzard and Graham Greene were particularly close when it all came down to it. But she was a presence in his life in the later stages. There’s a kind of premise of a novel dwelling in her somewhere, but given that all the actors in this story are writers themselves, they did a better job telling it.