The best books about Naples Italy

5 authors have picked their favorite books about Naples Italy and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

I Will Have Vengeance

By Maurizio de Giovanni, Anne Milano Appel (translator),

Book cover of I Will Have Vengeance

Can a mystery novel have supernatural elements and still be considered a mystery? I obsessed on this question when I was writing my book. (You’ll know why if you check it out.) Then, out of the blue, I stumbled across de Giovanni’s astonishing novels. His detective, Commissario Ricciardi, suffers from a bizarre affliction. He sees dead people. Specifically, he sees visions of murder victims just before their death. Naturally, this makes him the greatest cop ever, and the most tortured. If you can stand to read a little on the wild side, you will enjoy these historical mysteries, set in 1930s Naples. Currently 10 books in the series.


Who am I?

As a kid, Joseph D’Agnese did not feel quite normal unless he’d devoured at least two mystery novels in a weekend. Today he’s a journalist and author. His mystery fiction has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He’s a past recipient of the Derringer Award for Short Mystery Fiction, and a contributor to the prestigious annual anthology, Best American Mystery Stories. D’Agnese lives in North Carolina with his wife, the New York Times Bestselling author Denise Kiernan.


I wrote...

The Marshal of the Borgo

By Joseph D'Agnese,

Book cover of The Marshal of the Borgo

What is my book about?

An unusual mystery novel with a fiendish twist lying beneath the surface. A troubled carabinieri officer is exiled to the rural Italian countryside after botching a case in Rome. He’s trying to forget the past, but the murder of an immigrant vineyard worker pits him against a cynical killer who may well have gotten away with five murders. Jump in to enjoy great food, wine, sun-drenched olive groves, and murder!

The Neapolitan Novels Boxed Set

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Book cover of The Neapolitan Novels Boxed Set

My hands are shaking as I write this. Honestly, I’m not certain I’m up to the task of writing about how brilliant this book is – and how much they mean to me. I’ve never felt more immersed inside a fictional character’s mind in my entire life. This is the epic story of a decades-long female friendship, depicted in compelling, granular detail. By the end of the fourth and final book, the pages were stained with tears. 


Who am I?

I’ve devoted my career to writing love stories. I’ve analyzed and dissected most of the great ones, always with the intention of writing something to join their ranks. Along the way, I noticed something interesting: the books that make people cry often stick with them, long after they’ve finished reading them. Perhaps this is because we all need to release feelings that are not socially acceptable? Whatever the reason, if you’re like me and love a good cry, then you’ll most certainly enjoy the books on my list.


I wrote...

The In Between

By Marc Klein,

Book cover of The In Between

What is my book about?

After bouncing around in foster homes for most of her childhood, seventeen-year-old Tessa Jacobs doesn't believe she deserves love – not from her adoptive parents, and certainly not from anyone at school. But everything changes when she has a chance encounter with Skylar, a senior from a neighboring town who's a true romantic.

When tragedy strikes, Tessa wakes up alone in the hospital with no memory of how she got there. And Skylar has passed away. As Tessa begins her relentless search for answers, Skylar's spirit reaches out to her from the other side. Desperate to see him one last time, Tessa must unravel the pieces of their relationship – and the truth might even lead her into the afterlife itself.

The Poison Keeper

By Deborah Swift,

Book cover of The Poison Keeper: An enthralling historical novel of Renaissance Italy

Another woman steps out of the shadows of history in this novel about seventeenth-century Italy. Gulia Tofana was a notorious poisoner of terrible men and Deborah Swift explores in a tale full of excitement and drama the imagined early career of Gulia whose mother was executed for murder. Gulia just wants to be an apothecary, but her friendship with the abused wife of an aristocratic, power greedy husband draws her into murder. It is full of rich detail – you can feel the heat, smell the perfume, hear the rustle of silk and taffeta, and you can’t help being on the side of the women trapped in a corrupt and violent world.


Who am I?

I love the novels of Charles Dickens and when I found out that he did go out with the London Police to research the criminal underworld for his magazine, I thought what a good detective he would make. He has all the talents a detective needs: remarkable powers of observation, a shrewd understanding of human nature and of motive, and the ability to mix with all ranks of Victorian society from the street urchin to the lord and lady. I love Victorian London, too, and creating the foggy, gas-lit alleys we all know from Dickens the novelist.


I wrote...

Summons to Murder

By J.C. Briggs,

Book cover of Summons to Murder

What is my book about?

This is the ninth novel in the Charles Dickens Investigation series. A journalist friend of Dickens, Pierce Mallory, is found shot dead in his lodgings. The inquest verdict is suicide, but closer examination of the gun causes Dickens and Superintendent Jones to have doubts. Mallory left behind debts, a discarded wife, more than one discarded mistress, and two illegitimate children. There are plenty of suspects. The investigation takes Dickens and Jones into a dangerous world in which powerful people have dangerous secrets they want to keep so badly that even Dickens’s life is in danger.

Naples '44

By Norman Lewis,

Book cover of Naples '44: A World War II Diary of Occupied Italy

Lewis was a British intelligence officer during the Allied forces' northward advance through Italy during the second world war. His stay in and around Naples enabled him not only to witness the 1944 eruption of Vesuvius, but also to appreciate the struggles to survive and graciousness of the local people. Lewis concludes that if he were to be offered a second life on earth he would want to come back as Italian.


Who am I?

Fact is often more fascinating than fiction, and on occasions, a lot weirder too. As someone, London-based though lucky to have travelled extensively in Europe since childhood (my mother was keen to visit places where my father had been stationed in the Second World War) and more recently as a journalist (for The Financial Times, BBC, The Guardian, and others) in the Americas, Asia, and Africa, I have always been attracted to stories that strongly convey senses of time, place and the people you just happen to meet.


I wrote...

Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World

By Peter Chapman,

Book cover of Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World

What is my book about?

Bananas shows how a single company can dominate the affairs of whole countries, large or small. The United Fruit Company took bananas from the jungles of Costa Rica to the halls of power in Washington D.C. It employed supremely clever marketing, covert CIA operations, bloody coups, and brutalised workforces. Along the way, it turned the banana into a blueprint for a new model of unfettered capitalism: one that serves corporate power at any cost.

My Brilliant Friend

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Book cover of My Brilliant Friend

Like me, millions of mainly women readers were captivated by this saga of an intense and heartbreaking relationship between two girls that evolves over four volumes. The story of Lila and Lenù’s friendship begins in 1950s Naples when they are young schoolgirls, living in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood. Even though on the surface my boring middle-class life did not resemble theirs even remotely, the emotions that tied the two together as they grew into adolescence feel universal. In fact, reading Ferrante’s novel made me understand what I was trying to figure out in my own book––and led me to borrow its title–why some unforgettable friendships between women are both exquisite and doomed, necessary and devastating.


Who am I?

I’m a memoirist living in New York and my women friends have saved my life many times. I didn’t fully understand how important they were to me until the three I write about died within a few years of each other in the early aughts. I also teach memoir as an academic. I’ve learned from my favorite writers how crucial it is to push past shame and embarrassment to try and reach emotional truth—whatever that is for each of us. Only readers can decide whether one succeeds, but for me, the most important gift memoir can bestow is the writer’s willingness to risk intimate self-disclosure.  


I wrote...

My Brilliant Friends: Our Lives in Feminism

By Nancy K. Miller,

Book cover of My Brilliant Friends: Our Lives in Feminism

What is my book about?

My Brilliant Friends is a memoir of my three friendships forged in feminism with writers Carolyn Heilbrun, Diane Middlebrook, and Naomi Schor. Our bonds were intense and complicated, our stories were too. These relationships combined personal and professional experiences over the decades in which women faced the challenges of male-dominated domains. We shared ambitions as writers for our books and hopes for our careers, and supported each other, even during difficult moments of rivalry and competition. My Brilliant Friends is an elegy to three friends who changed my life and whom I still love many years after their death.

Antoinette's Sister

By Diana Giovinazzo,

Book cover of Antoinette's Sister

Everyone knows Marie Antoinette, but did you know about her fierce and formidable sister, Queen Maria Carolina Charlotte of Naples? You will after reading Diana Giovinazzo’s incredible sophomore novel, and you’ll never be able to forget her. The book follows the story of Charlotte, as she likes to be known, from her childhood as a Hapsburg archduchess to her marriage to King Ferdinand of Naples, where she attempts to guide her feckless husband in taking the reins of power. This is a juicy novel full of drama and court intrigue, as well as a captivating look at southern Italy in the late 18th century.


Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by history my whole life, and have been reading historical fiction for as long as I can remember. I have a particular passion for the history of Italy, in all its complicated, bloody, and dazzling glory, from the politics to the music to the art to, of course, the food and wine. There is so much within Italian history that captivates, and as a woman of Italian descent it holds a special interest for me. I try to capture the drama, beauty, and complexity of Italy in my own historical novels, and the books on this list all do that in the most compelling way.


I wrote...

The Borgia Confessions

By Alyssa Palombo,

Book cover of The Borgia Confessions

What is my book about?

Rome, 1492. Cesare Borgia is the eldest son of Pope Alexander VI and has been forced to follow his father into the church. Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. 

As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare's lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.

England's Mistress

By Kate Williams,

Book cover of England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton

I don't know about Emma being England's mistress (that sounds tiring), but (and this is the subject of my list) she was certainly Nelson's. Kate Williams thinks Emma was infamous and it should come as no surprise that this book is built around the scandals that made Emma and unmade her. As such it is written in a rather breathless tone, just short of salacious. This makes it rather fun but also quite in keeping with Emma’s life and times. After all, Emma’s story can never really be separated from the scandals. I like it because it packs a lot in (especially on the relationship with Nelson) and it moves at a hectic pace reminiscent of old Covent Garden on a Saturday night.


Who am I?

I consider myself a historian. It isn’t a job title or a career, more of a passion. The object of my passion is the period following the French revolution. When the world, for all its art and elegance, was convulsed by conflict and Napoleon. I shy from the big sweep of events, preferring to tell stories through the words of those who were there. My interest in Nelson and Lady Hamilton grew from my research on the Neapolitan revolution of 1799 and I was shocked to discover that, in addition to their love story, there was a chilling crime disguised and buried beneath their famous romance.


I wrote...

Nelson at Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799

By Jonathan North,

Book cover of Nelson at Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799

What is my book about?

In 1799 a republic was established in Naples. It lasted six months before an avenging army under Cardinal Ruffo was laying siege to the survivors in the castles of Naples. That June they agreed to surrender when Ruffo promised them safe passage to France. Nelson, accompanied by his fleet and Lady Hamilton, then arrived and objected to the treaty, but then pretended to agree so that, as the republicans evacuated their forts, they could be seized. Hundreds were executed by the merciless royalists.

This book examines the events leading up to Nelson’s war crime and, making use of accounts by Cardinal Ruffo, Lady Hamilton, and Nelson himself, as well as by many others caught up in the drama, tells the story of this neglected atrocity.

The Coin of Carthage

By Winifred Bryher,

Book cover of The Coin of Carthage

Bryher's historical novels, once acclaimed, are out of print. I think Bryher deserves re-discovery. I like how The Coin of Carthage, set during ancient Rome’s war against Carthage, concerns everyday people: traders, farmers, common soldiers. And no Rome. Rome is a glimpse from a hill. I like this ̶ a true peasant’s sense of distance, where very near is still far. We follow the workaday lives of Italian-Greek traders Zonas and Dasius, from Naples docks to Carthage streets, to bucolic Tivoli, farms, markets, courtyards, piers, ships, mule-trains. Setting Italia, characters commoners, heroes Italian-Greeks, the periphery, usually silenced, is given voice. A curiously moving book.


Who am I?

Ever since I spent a day wandering the Roman forum, imagining Caesar’s funeral at the site of his pyre, standing on the Palatine imagining living in palatial Palatine splendor, and looking down on Senators, plebeians, public baths, the Colisseum, temples, statues, basilicae, patricians, slaves, street vendors, centurions, courtesans, ladies, gladiators, urchins, schoolboys, pickpockets, and priests, I knew I wanted to write about it. I have done intensive research, with skills honed earning a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University (specialty: literary-historical). I seek out literary historical novels, novels with distinctive style, artful plotting, engaging characterization, and historical fidelity. 


I wrote...

Ashes I: A Novel of the Poor of Ancient Rome

By Theodore Irvin Silar,

Book cover of Ashes I: A Novel of the Poor of Ancient Rome

What is my book about?

It is ancient, late-Republican Rome, and, denied the freedom he was promised, successful merchant-slave, Ariston, sets fire to his master's Palatine villa, rescues a slave-girl, Felicia, from crucifixion, and both escape to the distant Umbrian mountains where they marry and raise a family, setting in play an odyssey that spans generations, an odyssey that leads from the cruel streets of the slums of Rome to chariot races in the Circus Maximus, from bloody, no-holds-barred street boxing to the pursuit of fugitive slaves across the length and breadth of Italia, from the great landed estates of the Roman countryside to the law courts of the Roman Forum.

The Days of Abandonment

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Book cover of The Days of Abandonment

I’d recommend any one of the novels by Elena Ferrante, a writer who depicts with nuance and complexity her female characters’ psychology, as it’s impacted by the forces of society, family, motherhood, wifedom, work, economics, and politics. The Days of Abandonment is one of her earlier novels about a woman whose husband leaves her for a younger woman after 15 years of marriage. A common story, unfortunately, but what isn’t common is the brutally honest depiction of rage, sorrow, depression, loss of self, and the slow evolution of a new life and a new self. 


Who am I?

When I was 12, I was given The Book of Questions by Neruda Pablo. “Tell me, is the rose naked or is that her only dress?” It was the perfect book for me, with an abundance of questions. As I got older, the questions turned more serious: what are these forces restricting women to a narrow strip of being? To a slim wedge of psychological existence? How did the definition of female pare down to only a fistful of traits—nurturing, accommodating, object of desire, etc.? I’ve found solace in books, with fully dimensional female characters who refuse society’s common assumptions. It’s these females I try to create in my work. 


I wrote...

The Translator

By Nina Schuyler,

Book cover of The Translator

What is my book about?

When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, she suffers a brain injury, a rare but real injury: the ability to speak only the language learned later in life—Japanese. Isolated from the English-speaking world, she goes to Japan for refuge, only to be confronted by a Japanese writer who accuses her of mangling the translation of his novel. 

Devoted to her work, Hanne seeks out the inspiration for the man’s novel to redeem her good name, an unemployed Japanese Noh actor named Moto. Through their contentious and sexually charged interactions, Moto finds his way back on stage and Hanne begins to understand how she mistranslated not only the novel, but also her daughter.

A Season for the Dead

By David Hewson,

Book cover of A Season for the Dead

If you diligently work your way down this list, you’ll travel to Sicily, Venice, Florence, and Naples. But none of these cities beat Rome. I’m biased, of course. My wife and I lived in Rome when we were first married. When I close my eyes, I swear I see Caravaggios and I can still smell the woodsmoke and simmering pasta sauce that perfume Rome’s air. All of which brings me to Hewson’s Nic Costa novels. I don’t think anyone nails Rome’s sinister criminal quality the way Hewson does, but he still manages to capture the Eternal City’s beauty, food, and art. (Hewson’s a Brit who travels to Italy often; it's totally worth checking out his Instagram account.) Currently 10 books in the series. If you like them, investigate his standalone novels, some of which are also set in Italy.


Who am I?

As a kid, Joseph D’Agnese did not feel quite normal unless he’d devoured at least two mystery novels in a weekend. Today he’s a journalist and author. His mystery fiction has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He’s a past recipient of the Derringer Award for Short Mystery Fiction, and a contributor to the prestigious annual anthology, Best American Mystery Stories. D’Agnese lives in North Carolina with his wife, the New York Times Bestselling author Denise Kiernan.


I wrote...

The Marshal of the Borgo

By Joseph D'Agnese,

Book cover of The Marshal of the Borgo

What is my book about?

An unusual mystery novel with a fiendish twist lying beneath the surface. A troubled carabinieri officer is exiled to the rural Italian countryside after botching a case in Rome. He’s trying to forget the past, but the murder of an immigrant vineyard worker pits him against a cynical killer who may well have gotten away with five murders. Jump in to enjoy great food, wine, sun-drenched olive groves, and murder!

Or, view all 11 books about Naples Italy

New book lists related to Naples Italy

All book lists related to Naples Italy

Bookshelves related to Naples Italy