In A Dark Wood by Joseph Luzzi – Book Review

In A Dark Wood

In A Dark Wood – What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, And The Mysteries Of Love – Review

In the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood.
Dante’s Divine Comedy

If you have ever found yourself moving through life, thoroughly absorbed in each moment that makes up your day, when suddenly – without warning – your life is shattered into a million little shards by the news that someone you love – someone who is a part of you – is gone – snatched away without warning in the prime of their life – then you know what it means to find yourself “in a dark wood”.

If you’ve been there, you know that finding your way out of the dark, tangled forest of emotions is incredibly tough. If you’re currently there, you know that having an experienced guide who has traversed the path before you is worth its price in gold.

If you’re looking for someone who’s been through the dark wood to shine a light from the other side of the forest, may I recommend Joseph Luzzi, the author of the newly released book, In A Dark Wood – What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, And the Mysteries Of Love, as your guide?

In A Dark Wood chronicles Joseph’s intensely personal story of how his world was rocked the day a college security guard interrupted the Italian class he was preparing to teach to tell him that his wife – his pregnant wife – had been in a terrible car accident.

Forty-five minutes later, Joseph found himself plunged into a world of darkness he never imagined – a world in which he was instantly transformed from a loving husband into a grieving widower and an instant father to a newborn motherless girl.

Where does a man turn when faced with a situation of such magnitude?

One might expect him to turn to family – and of course, his family was there for him. But Joseph – a Dante scholar – also turned to an unusual source for healing and consolation. He turned to Dante’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy, and used the structure of the poem as a way to explore and move through his grief.

In A Dark Wood is an intensely personal memoir that takes us through one of the most difficult periods of Joseph’s life in a way that is heartfelt, honest, and deeply riveting. It also opens our eyes and provides us with insights into one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written.

You don’t need to be familiar with Dante to enjoy Joseph’s masterfully written book (but you’ll appreciate it all the more if you are!)

From the moment I began reading In A Dark Wood, I was hooked. Even in the heavy places, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have read all year.

As Joseph so poignantly reminds us throughout this book:

Every grief story is a love story.

In A Dark Wood is currently named as one of USA Today’s New And Noteworthy Books and one of Vanity Fair’s 9 Must-Read June Books.

I highly recommend this book to you!

Rating: 5 Out Of 5 stars

In A Dark Wood – Book Trailer

About Joseph Luzzi

Joseph Luzzi

Joseph Luzzi holds a doctorate from Yale and teaches at Bard. He is the author of My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and the Times Literary Supplement.


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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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8 Responses to “In A Dark Wood by Joseph Luzzi – Book Review”

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  1. “Every grief story is a love story.” This makes so much sense, because you don’t truly grieve something you don’t also truly love.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    • Create With Joy
      Twitter: CreateWithJoy1

      Thanks, Heather, for including me on this tour and for introducing me to this Joseph Luzzi – he’s a truly wonderful author and I look forward to reading more of his books!

  2. trish says:

    Someone else told me that you can’t separate love from grief. They are bound up with each other. I find it so moving that you loved this book so much, because I think so much is found in our darkest days. It can be really hard to read books like this, but the profundity of them makes it worth it.

    • Create With Joy
      Twitter: CreateWithJoy1

      Joseph Luzzi tells his story in such a beautiful and eloquent way that what could have been a very difficult book to read ends up being a page-turner.

      Thanks so much, Trish, for inviting me to be a part of this tour – In A Dark Wood is truly one of the best books I have read this year!

  3. Mary Hill
    Twitter: MaryHill16

    Thanks for sharing on Literacy Musing Mondays. I shared your post on my Google + and tweeted. It was a great review.

  4. Sounds like a really intriguing read. Thanks for sharing at #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup …I’ve pinned your post… hope you join us again this week.

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