Tuesday 10 October 2023

Book Review: The Gentleman from Peru by André Aciman (Magical Realism)

Title: The Gentleman from Peru
Author: André Aciman
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 4 April 2024
Pages: 176
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Magical Realism
Source: ARC via NetGalley

We spend more time than we know trying to go back. We call it fantasising, we call it dreaming. . . but we're all crawling back, each in his or her own way.

A group of college friends find themselves marooned at a luxurious hotel on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. While their boat is being repaired, they can't help but observe the daily routine of a fellow hotel guest - a mysterious, white-bearded stranger who sits on the veranda each night and smokes one cigarette, sometimes two. When the group decides to invite the elegant traveller to lunch with them, they cannot begin to imagine the miraculous abilities, strange wisdom, and a life-changing story he is about to impart to one of the friends in particular. . .

Deeply atmospheric and sensual, The Gentleman From Peru weaves achingly poignant insight into a story of regret, fate and epic love.


The Gentleman from Peru was a quick read (I finished it within 90 minutes), but it's hard to decide how I feel about it. The prose was easy reading and I enjoyed some of the thoughts and sentiments expressed; it was an intellectual piece of writing. However, when it ended, I wondered what the point had been. Most of the characters were extraneous to the plot and could have been left out all together, and even the main two never fully captured my interest in an emotional way. I guess it felt a little flimsy and undeveloped. The only book I have read previously by Aciman is Call Me By Your Name, which I adored. I was hoping for more of the same with this title, but it didn't manage to live up to my expectations sadly. It had some pleasing moments though, and presented some thoughtful ideas, so I am giving it three stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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